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Bird Delays Construction On $1 Million Bridge

Work has been delayed until June 30 with no set timeline in place to finish

A not often seen migratory bird, a Blue Heron has recently decided to make its nest not far from the Elm Street Bridge. Due to the possibility of negatively affecting the clutch, Bergen County has delayed the construction work on the bridge from April 9 to June 30.

Found throughout most of North America, the Blue Heron prefers to stay close to water such as fresh and saltwater marshes, mangrove swamps, flooded meadows, lake edges, or shorelines, while nesting in nearby trees or bushes.

The  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. 

The $1 million County-funded project includes widening the bridge by two-feet and increasing the weigh limit from three-tons to 40-tons so it meets federal standards. Oradell had previously approved weight and speed restrictions for the bridge to keep commercial vehicles and Transit buses from using it as a shortcut from Elm Street to New Milford Avenue.

All of the original iron work that is visible when looking at the bridge will be refurbished and reinstalled on the new bridge so as to retain the look and character of the original bridge.

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.

Until construction begins and is eventually completed, no pedestrian foot traffic is allowed over the bridge.

Ulises April 18, 2012 at 10:58 PM
I’ve witnessed three different Blue Herons this year while on the river.  Their wings span are huge and when they file over you, you feel like you’re in an episode of ‘The Land of the Lost’ and a dinosaur is taking flight (Cha-Ka agrees).  They stick around all winter long now a days, so these birds are no longer migrating here as this report states. They’re stuck with us like the jolly-poopers, the Canadian Geese that never go home, ay!  The White Egrets are beautiful too, but I’ve only seen them on the river during the warmer months. These birds only live where there’s game and this river may be polluted but there’s an abundant of fish the tide brings in twice a day.  If you’re a bird watcher, you should take advantage of our bird statuary we all take for granted. 
GH April 18, 2012 at 11:18 PM
I have seen the Blue Herons, Eagels,and other unique birds, Turtles, fish and deer, red fox and Coyotes,snakes, frogs,and crabs and other wildlife to long to list. All these animals live in and around the Hackensack River in New Milford. With all this wild life I expect the united water property by the high school never to be developed without a thorogh enviriomental study demanded by our officals who represent the people of New Milford. I am hoping the Hackensack River Keeper is keeping a close watch on this situation as it unfolds.
Eamon Harbord (Editor) April 19, 2012 at 11:31 PM
I stand corrected then Ulises regarding the Herons. They are primarily migratory birds and from my understanding are more prone to migration than staying put for the full year. This past winter was abnormal as it was so warm and the Herons do prefer warmer weather.
Ulises April 20, 2012 at 12:39 AM
GH, the only thing I haven't seen on your list is a frog, the wildlife is pretty amazing and I agree with you 100%. I reached out to the river keeper to attend the big high school meeting last year but he was a no show...
Ulises April 20, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Mr. Harbord, your are correct about these birds but I think they just have it too good here. I have a picture on my old cell phone which i took in January 2011 of a Blue Hereon in the middle of the river, during a very low tide, standing on one leg, with its head so tucked into his body that I couldn't tell what it was until he moved a bit, so they may be here permanently (the heron was obviously doing this to keep warm). As I was staring at the bird a huge eagle flew in front of me, which was the only reason I tracked through the snow to the bank of river and I was so excited to see the eagle that I forgot to snap a picture until it was too late and the picture of the eagle was nothing to brag about at that point...
GH April 21, 2012 at 11:11 AM
The River Keeper should be involved for what is being planned for this area which is so close to the river. The proposed project will effect the eco systems in this area for sure
Kevin Wright April 21, 2012 at 01:18 PM
We've seen Blue Heron and White Egrets at New Bridge Landing for the past 30 years or so. In fact, the White Egrets retreated north to New Bridge Landing from the marsh behind the Shops at Riverside when the County first opened the park there. We saw 11 American Egrets across from the Steuben House roosting in the willow trees, one summer evening in 1988. Cormorants returned in the late 1980s. We've also seen eagles there for at least ten years, though with greater frequency nowadays. Yet it has been a constant struggle to protect this place from modern intrusions. My wife, Deborah Powell, posts the following list of birds she has seen at New Bridge over the past 31 years: crane, Double Crested Cormorant, Canada Goose, Buffle-head Duck, Red-tailed Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Bald Eagle, Ring-necked Pheasant, American Egret, Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Killdeer, Lesser Yellowlegs, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Yellow-shafted Flicker, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Brown Creeper, Robin, Brown Thrasher, Wood Thrush, Catbird, Mockingbird, Cedar Waxwing, Barn Swallow, Yellow-throat Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Red-wing Blackbird, Scarlet Tanager, Blue Jay, Kingfisher, Baltimore Oriole, Cardinal, American Goldfinch, Rodpoll, Purple Finches, Towhee, Slated-colored Junco, and Song Sparrow.
Eamon Harbord (Editor) April 21, 2012 at 05:25 PM
How would repairing the bridge effect the eco system GH? The County is not doing any work in the area except to bring the bridge up to current federal standards, while Oradell has implemented law stating that the 3-ton vehicle limit will be enforced.
Ulises April 24, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Mr. Harbord, GH is referring to the proposed development on the United Waters property by the New Milford High School. This property is along the river (clearly in the town's flood zone map), a 221 apartment/retail/mega/eyesore of a complex - that will change things forever.  GH's comment is right on concerning a needed thorough environmental study.  I've done many river cleanups, I could only imagine the trash this complex will add... Mr. Wright, that's an amazing list - please thank the wife.
Big Ben May 02, 2012 at 12:48 AM
and I thought the hold-up on the bridge was caused by the residents around St. Joe's who didn't want the street to be used as a short-cut speed-way. What was I thinking?

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