DOVER, NJ (Morris County) – Despite biting cold and winds, a ceremonial ribbon-cutting was held Wednesday morning at the East Blackwell Street Bridge in Dover, where the Morris County Freeholders joined town officials in officially reopening the important span after nearly ten months of reconstruction.
The $1.85 million project, which began in late January to replace the 37-year-old decking on the bridge, wrapped up a month ahead of schedule, to the delight of local motorists who travel the bridge daily and were forced to make detours until today. The county owned bridge, also known as the County Route 513 bridge, spans the Rockaway River and carries more than 18,000 vehicles daily.
“This project was important to the people of Dover, so it was important to all of Morris County. We knew at the start, that this bridge had to be closed for 10 months to finish construction. But I’m happy to say we did it ahead of schedule and we are ready to open it,” said Freeholder Director Deborah Smith.
Dover Mayor Carolyn Blackman, state Senator Anthony Bucco (R-25), Freeholder Deputy Director Stephen Shaw and Freeholder Thomas Mastrangelo were among the dignitaries who participated in the ribbon cutting. Freeholder Shaw, the board liaison to the public works, noted the bridge project was one of many infrastructure efforts undertaken by the Morris County Department of Public Works despite the pandemic.
“Morris County has continued to improve our roadways, with ten bridge projects completed or underway this year and more than 30 miles of roads repaved and repaired in 2020,” Shaw said.
Morris County worked closely in the design process with the Town of Dover, Dover police and state agencies, including the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Transportation to coordinate all aspects of the construction and rerouting traffic, noted Christopher Vitz, Director of the Morris County Department of Public Works, who joined the ribbon cutting.
Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo, the board’s alternate liaison to public works, noted the economic significance of the bridge project and the daily routine of Dover residents.
“I want to thank everyone for getting this project completed and ahead of schedule, which was very important to the people of Dover, especially the business owners and the people who work here and who need to travel into town every day,” Mastrangelo said.
Sparwick Contracting of Lafayette Township was the contractor on the project, which was financed largely through the state’s Local Bridges Future Needs Program. The new bridge structure is comprised of 14 precast slab concrete beams supporting a cast-in-place concrete deck. Sidewalks on both sides of the bridge also were replaced and include new, four-bar railings.
“I want to thank the freeholders for the work they are doing in the Town of Dover and to thank them for what they are doing here in repairing the bridge,” said Dover Mayor Blackman.
She was joined in the ribbon by Third Ward Alderman Edward Correa, Deputy Police Chief Jonathan Delaney, Fire Chief Jon Filosa, Dover Department of Public Works Superintendent Jeff Guevara and other local officials.
Freeholder Director Smith said that, at the request of Dover officials, the Morris County Freeholders adopted a resolution on Nov. 9 to re-dedicate the bridge at a later date in honor of the late Georgia Congressman John Lewis, the civil rights leader who died in July. A plaque in his honor will be erected.