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Middle Valley Bridge Work to Last Six Months

Roadway will be closed, detoured while entire bridge is replaced.

A major bridge reconstruction project will force a detour around the eastern end of Middle Valley Road until November of this year, according to Morris County Engineer Roslyn Khurdan.

The bridge at the end of the county road is being completely replaced, Khurdan said, and approximately 100 feet of pavement on both sides of the bridge will be milled and paved as well.

The federally funded project comes at a cost of $1.7 million, Khurdan said. The contractor on the project is Konkus Corporation of Somerset County..

A member from the company was at the site on Saturday, March 31 clearing trees in preparation of the project, Khurdan said.

The bridge, which was installed more than 15 years ago, was a temporary structure, Khurdan said. The life expectancy of a temporary structure is between eight and 10 years, Khurdan said.

Once the submitted contractor’s agreement clears approval, Khurdan said, the work is expected to begin the third week of April or first week of May. A detour plan has been submitted to and approved by the Washington Township Police, and will be in effect throughout the duration of the project.

lsbcpc April 03, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Is this the bridge as you reach 513? Just confused because I don't recognize the location of this picture...I don't think the Speed Limit is 45 anywhere on Middle Valley Road! :)
Hookerman April 03, 2012 at 05:59 PM
It's the bridge that crosses the Raritan River, right before Rte 513.
Jason Koestenblatt (Editor) April 03, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Hi Lisa, Thanks for the comment - that's actually a stock photo we used to accompany the article. If you look at the map to the right of the article, however, you'll see the exact location of the roadwork. The bridge does cross over the south branch of the Raritan River. Thanks!
Tracy Tobin April 03, 2012 at 07:11 PM
The bridge previous to the "temporary bridge" being replaced was badly damaged due to flooding years ago. Water over the bridge and roadway problems which have gotten worse over the years with up stream building and "weather events". 15 years to replace a temporary 8-10 tear bridge is about the norm these days unless it is a high traffic volume structure, or a "bridge to no where in Alaska". Too much Federal and State gasoline tax money being siphoned off by political interests is why State and Federal bridges are in such bad shape. Anyone have a picture of the original that was replaced 15+ years ago? I am sure there were some newspaper photos.
RGJ April 03, 2012 at 07:32 PM
As this is an alternate route for many to avoid the (non-bypass) rush hour backup down the mountain, it will be interesting to see how far that backup goes now. General Store?
Sue Underwood April 03, 2012 at 08:07 PM
It appears to be the bridge in the center of Middle Valley, not Long Valley, where the Columbia trail crosses. The bridge sits perpendicular to West Mill/513.
Hookerman April 03, 2012 at 08:25 PM
I was thinking the same thing. I'm glad my kids aren't in middle school anymore... Middle Valley Rd was always a good way to bypass the traffic on Schooley's Mtn Rd when school events occurred.
Angelo April 04, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Jason, is it going to be a two lane bridge???
MJ April 04, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Does anyone know where the detour route will redirect traffic for residents living just beyond the bridge?
Tracy Tobin April 04, 2012 at 03:25 PM
MJ W.T. Police Traffic Officer will post the information before the end of the week. It will be on the town website for sure and probably on Patch as well.
Trish Dochtermann April 04, 2012 at 10:45 PM
With gas at $3.70 something a gallon, is this a good time to replace the bridge that was put in upside down the last time it was replaced? I live right beyond the bridge & this is going to mean I have to go all the way up to Schooley's Mtn. Rd. at the police station to get back to the center of Long Valley. Really? BTW, the original bridge that was replaced was made at the Bartley Foundry, and it is put in place by the U. S. military forces in less then 48 hours. It's going to take 6 months to replace it?
Tracy Tobin April 04, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Trish Welcome to the wonderful world of proposals, studies, consultants, design specifications, impact studies, design revisions, years of delays and price increases, increased insurance and material costs, public hearings, etc. I would bet for years the major traffic over the bridge was farm related and local families. Now there are developments all over Schooley's Mountain. RGJ's post re short cut to avoid Schooley's Mountain Road traffic backup in the a.m. never occured to me. I certainly would not challenge "woodpecker point" as part of a short cut. Eileen Stokes or Lindaberrys, any history of Middle Valley Road and the bridge you can share with us newcomers?
Adam Duckworth April 09, 2012 at 12:35 AM
My family has lived on mallard cove rd (next the bridge) for over a 100 years and now they want to make a 2 lane bridge on a barely passable road, just doesnt make sence me, just put in a one lane bridge and leave the rest alone, and who wants to drive over the mountain every day just to get to califon or long valley i have landscape equipment to move and i know gas in my truck is going to cost a lot more pulling a trailer with 3 mowers on equipment over woodpeckers point every day. They are also talking about moving out row of 10 mailboxes back 20 ft and putting the road right next to my neighbors WELL i hope they put some concrete pillers in so nobody runs into that.
Trish Dochtermann April 09, 2012 at 11:56 AM
A valid concern for all the residents who live beyond the bridge on Middle Valley Rd. & Mallard Cove Rd. How are emergency vehicles going to reach our houses if a fire happens? The fire trucks can't possibly make it down Woodpecker's point, (a school bus can't make it around the hair pin curve)? Does that mean if a structure fire occurs, the house will just have to burn down to the ground because the fire trucks can't get to it?
Tracy Tobin April 10, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Trish I referred your question to Washington Township Fire Chief Craig Wallenstein. This was discussed as part of the planning for the bridge replacement. Chief Wallenstein responded that fire hose can be laid to draw water from the river, something that has to be done in areas of the township without fire hydrants, and the fire companies would use that as the water source for fire suppression.
Trish Dochtermann April 10, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Tracy, I appreciate your response to my question about fire trucks getting water. However, my house sits approximately 1,000 feet from the southern bank of the river,(which is where the fire trucks would have to work from) and some of the neighbor houses are even further away. The houses on Middle Valley Rd. pass the Columbia Trail are several thousand feet from the river. Do our town trucks have that much hose, & are the pumpers on the trucks strong enough to pump that much uphill from the river, approximately 100 feet or higher then the river? Also, can the ambulances navigate Woodpecker's point? We also will face the dilemma of having oil or propane gas delivered, as those trucks can't come down Middle Valley Road, because of the size of those vehicles. Are we not to have hot water, cooking gas or heat for 6 months? Heat obviously won't be an issue over the summer, but it can get fairly cold in Sept. and October, and the thought of cold water showers for 6 months isn't a warm & fuzzy idea. Basically, why does the bridge have to be totally closed for 6 months? Is the bridge going to be removed on the 1st day of work?
RGJ April 11, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Columbia Trail.
Tracy Tobin April 11, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Trish I am going to have to do some work to get answers to your questions. I will raise them at the Township Committee Work Meeting tomorrow night, and with the Fire and First Aid Chiefs next week. I assume that the Township Committee may have to reach out to the County for some of the answers. Thank you for raising the questions.
Trish Dochtermann April 11, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Tracy, Thanks again for you response. This is a valid concern, as we have had a couple of brush fires over the years, and, sadly, have needed to have the excellent Long Valley First Aid Squad to respond to several medical emergencies to the homes on the lane.
Trish Dochtermann April 11, 2012 at 03:11 AM
The Columbia Trail wouldn't work because of the weight of the fire trucks, and they still wouldn't be able to get around Woodpecker's Point to get to the trail, plus the trail is now blocked off with access gates.
Jon April 11, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Did they consider building the new bridge as a stand-alone, off to the side of the installation site, and then when it's ready to install, removing the old one and dropping the new one in? This would require a substantially shorter road closure - it could be closed for less two weeks doing it that way. Other alternatives include a temporary one lane bridge that could be put in place for the duration of the project, or a drawbridge that could be lowered into place for overnights or other non-work periods.
RGJ April 11, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Trish, what I meant was in an emergency oil and gas companies often have smaller rigs they send to tight areas, These possibly could come in Columbia Trail, along with whatever can't maneuver WP. After all, wasn't ot once a railroad bed? Must have some underpinning. That said, six months sounds upsurd. Bid it out at 5 weeks and see what you get back.
Trish Dochtermann April 11, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Your suggestions are excellent, and I wonder why that hadn't been considered. I can understand that the bridge needs to be repaired or replaced, but when the bridge in the center of town had to be fixed, Schooley's Mtn. Rd. certainly wasn't closed for months. Was a traffic study done to see how many vehicles go over that bridge on a daily basis? As for making the bridge 2 lanes, as Adam Duckworth said, why put a 2 lane bridge on a 1 lane road? Doesn't really make much sense, and the road can't be widen there because of the older houses that sit right on the road on the western side, and the marsh on the right side. If this bridge is closed for 6 months, it is going to be a major incovenience for folks who live on that side of the township, and a financial hardship & possible safety hazard for the residents who live closest to the bridge. We don't have another way of getting to the center of town, or going west to Califon without going 7 or 8 miles out of the way. The idea of an adjacent structure is an excellent one, if the bridge absolutely has to be closed. Actually, I haven't noticed any problems with the bridge and I go over it at least 2 times a day.
Tracy Tobin April 11, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Trish LVFAS Chief responded to the question about getting personnel and equipment past woodpecker point for a squad call with the Middle Valley bridge closed. He said they can do it, just have to go slow and careful around the turn. Response will be from Station #2 (top of the mountain corner of Flocktown & Rock Roads).
Trish Dochtermann April 11, 2012 at 11:10 PM
RGJ thanks for your solutions to the oil & gas companies getting access, although I don't really know whether Columbia Trail would support the weight. The width of the trail is much narrower then when the railroad was in use, (I moved here when the trains still ran). Also, Tracy Tobin said that the LVFAS chief says an ambulance can make it around Woodpecker Point, now just have to wait until the fire company responds. I have no doubt that our excellent volunteer fire company would do their best to get to a fire, that goes without saying. My concern is that they wouldn't be able to get the trucks here, or have enough hose to reach the houses that are at least 1,000 feet from the south bank of the river. 6 months repair/replacement time is absurd, since the U.S. army corps of engineers put these bridges up in 48 hours. The average house only takes 3-4 months to build.
Eileen Stokes May 12, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Tracy, I finally got photos of the former Middle Valley bridge posted. Truss bridges were an important engineering advance of the 19th-century and were a common landscape feature. A September 20, 1889, issue of the Hackettstown Gazette states the ironwork for the bridge was furnished by the Riverside Bridge Company for a bid of $2,350 and the stone work for the abutments was done by J.B. Young at $5.97 a yard.

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