About the Project

Project Overview
Union County is conducting a study of the existing South Front Street Bridge over the Elizabeth River to improve its structural deficiencies and to restore a transportation connection between Bayway Avenue and Elizabeth Avenue.  Both roadways are City of Elizabeth evacuation routes.  The bridge has been closed to through traffic since March 4, 2011 due to severe deterioration of the superstructure stringers and floor beams.  Because to its age, the bridge has deteriorated over time and routine maintenance can no longer address the deficiencies.

This Local Concept Development Study is the first step to bridge improvements. The costs are too great for Union County so it requires Federal funding.  An application was filed with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) who oversees this phase of the project, known as Local Concept Development (LCD). 

Local Project Delivery Process
Local Capital Project Delivery (LCPD) Program (PDF - 23KB)

During this phase a well-defined and well-justified Purpose and Need Statement will be developed focusing on the need to improve safety and restore the current crossing over the Elizabeth River.  LCD Phase elements also include data collection; coordination with the New Jersey Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, community stakeholders, and permitting agencies; the development of a reasonable number of sensible and practical conceptual alternatives; the determination of a Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA); and to investigate all aspects of the project.  These aspects will include environmental screening, right of way, access, utilities, design, community involvement, constructibility, and cost analysis.
LCD Flowchart (PDF - 365KB)

NJTPA has developed flowcharts that show the project phases and the LCD steps to complete for the Local Concept Development phase.  Once an alternative for bridge improvements has been determined as a PPA with resolution of support, NJDOT Local Aid would then administer the project with Union County, utilizing Federal funding as available for the design and construction phases.

Project Background

The existing bridge is in serious overall condition.  Several factors contribute to this assessment:

Condition:The bridge superstructure is in serious physical condition with numerous steel supporting members exhibiting extensive section loss.  The bridge deck is in poor condition due to several fractured and missing secondary members within the open grid.  The substructure is in poor condition with several areas of cracking and/or shallow spalls.  The channel and channel protection are in poor condition with severe erosion at the downstream embankments.
Deterioration of Existing Bridge
Load Capacity:The bridge was closed to through traffic in March 2011 due to inadequate structural capacity steel member sections. Prior to the bridge closure, it was load posted for 4 Tons. The exiting bridge design (truss superstructure) is fracture critical.
Highway Safety:The bridge has inadequate (17’-8”) roadway width and the approach alignment is substandard.  The bridge railings do not meet current crash standards.  The approach guide  rails and bridge end treatments do not meet current design standards.
Public Safety:There is no existing safety interlocking system that prevents bridge operations from proceeding out of sequence.
Seismic:The bridge is susceptible to seismic forces and does not meet current seismic design standards.

Environmental Process

NJTPA is administering the project, however the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides the funding.  Any transportation projects receiving Federal funding must also follow the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.  The South Front Street Bridge LCD Study must identify any environmental concerns and develop an environmental profile.  When analyzing alternatives, one looks to avoid or minimize environmental impacts and if that’s not possible then to provide mitigation.  The environmental resources include air, noise, hazardous or contaminated sites, parks, wetlands, water resources, social and economic impacts, and cultural resources such as historic structures and facilities.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Bureau of Environmental Resources (BEPR) oversees this aspect of the project in cooperation with NJTPA and Union County to coordinate with the permitting agencies such as NJDEP and NJSHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) to develop a cohesive plan for proposed improvements.  The agencies look carefully at comments from the public and thus community involvement is an important part of environmental process and moving the project forward with consensus and environmental compliance.  The results of the environmental screening, which is in the project schedule, will be presented at the public meetings.  A good Purpose & Need Statement and documentation is important for the review agencies to work well with the project team in moving the project forward from the LCD Phase to design and construction.  Community involvement is an integral part of this process and the LCD Study.

Community Involvement

Union County and the cooperating agencies, NJTPA and NJDOT, are committed to developing transportation improvements that best balance transportation needs, the environment, community concerns and cost.  As part of the Community Outreach effort, numerous meetings will be held to share project information, obtain input and broad based support for bridge improvements from the local officials, community stakeholders, and the general public.

The primary tasks of stakeholders are to assist in the development of the Project Purpose and Need Statement, assist in the development of conceptual alternatives, identify possible fatal flaws, and to assist in the recommendation of the Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA) based on the Project Purpose and Need.

LCD Project Schedule (Major Milestones)

Develop Project Purpose and Need Statement

July 2014

Development of Conceptual Alternatives

October 2014

Selection of Preliminary Preferred Alternative

March 2015

Submission of Draft Concept Development Report

May 2015

Obtain Resolutions of Support for Preliminary Preferred Alternative

June 2015

Completion of Local Concept Development Phase

September 2015


Anticipated Community Involvement Schedule

Community Stakeholders Meeting for Purpose & Need Statement Development

March 2014

Public Information Center for Purpose and Need Statement Development

April 2014

Obtain Community Stakeholder Input for Developed Alternatives

December 2014

Public Officials Meeting No. 2 for Preliminary Preferred Alternative Selection

February 2015

Public Information Center No. 2 for Preliminary Preferred Alternative Selection

March 2015

Public Officials Meeting No. 3 for Obtaining Resolutions of Support

May 2015