A report released Wednesday by Transportation for America, a Washington, D.C.-based public transportation advocacy organization, maps and rates the structural integrity of all 600,000 bridges in the United States.
Of the several bridges that run through River Edge and Oradell, it comes as no surprise that the Elm Street Bridge in Oradell is considered structurally deficient. The 1892 pony-truss style bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic since June 2008.
Owned by Bergen County, the bridge splits Elm Street, a borough owned road that leads from Oradell into New Milford. It's 76-feet long and 20-feet wide but due to age and the constant flooding in the area, there has been significant damage and deterioration to the stringer beams underneath the metal bridge decking.
For the past few years, the Oradell Mayor and Council have received reports from Bergen County engineer Joseph Femia regarding the potential rehabilitation of the bridge.
The estimated $1 million project would include widening the bridge by two-feet and increasing the weigh limit from three-tons to 40-tons so it meets federal standards. The Bergen County Freeholders adopted a bond ordinance in April 2010 to be used in part for funding the rehabilitation, but at this time, no actual work as begun.
In September, the council approved an ordinance to place additional stop signs by the bridge to handle traffic flow near St. Joseph School. The additional stop signs for traffic calming measures are part of the County project for the bridge.
"This would put in additional multi-directional stops along Elm Street in connection with residents' concerns over the proposed reopening of Elm Street Bridge," Mayor Dianne Didio explained. "We don't want Elm Street turning into a freeway."
The stop signs will be located on Elm Street at the intersections of Bergen Boulevard and Centre Street near New Milford.
According to the report, “structurally deficient” bridges require significant maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement. Out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, New Jersey ranks 27th nationally in terms of the overall condition of the state’s bridges. (1 being the worst, 51 being the best.)
Of the 520 bridges in Bergen County, 60 or 11.50% are considered structurally deficient.