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Browning Road Temporary Bridge: A Look at the Not-Yet-Open Structure

Browning Road Temporary Bridge: A Look at the Not-Yet-Open Structure
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42Freeway takes a look at the not-yet-open Bellmawr Browning Road Temporary Bridge that is currently in place, but still has a few weeks of work ahead to make it traffic ready.

Crews are working to finalize the construction elements which include additional bridge stabilizing, paving surfaces for the bridge and approaches, as well as running the utility lines on the bridge (which currently run under the main Browning Road Bridge).

Looking at the pictures in this post you’ll realize it’s clear that significant work remains on the approaches to the bridge for cars and pedestrians. The cemetery side entrance of the bridge at this time is simply metal planks across an opening.

Direct Connection 295

This effort is part of the massive Direct Connection project targeted at straightening out 295 and removing the very sharp and dangerous Al-Jo’s curve. As part of the final implementation, traffic in most directions will have more direct and unencumbered traffic patterns to their destination.

As reported before, this temporary bridge is needed so that NJDOT contractors can demolish and rebuild the existing Browning Road bridge in place, which is needed ahead of placing the core 295 roadway which will be placed overhead.

Please do not enter the construction area or the temporary bridge until NJDOT has opened to traffic and pedestrians.

Two Lanes of Traffic

We’ve gotten this question from several readers “will it support two lanes of traffic”… as from the road, while the bridge is very large, it also seems a little thin to support two lanes.

But yes, the bridge is designed to support two lanes of traffic.

Admittedly, looking at it from the end, it does still look a little tight. I don’t believe they can fit a shoulder in there, and they have installed guide rails along the side. I would imagine traffic speeds will be reduced over the bridge.

I do not know the exact width of the temporary bridge.

Bellmawr Browning Road Temporary Bridge: This is from the Church side looking across to cemetery. Protective side rails are present.

I’ve done a lot of traveling through construction sites in my day and frequently roads have had the concrete dividers right at the lane edge and it’s worked out fine.

I am aware if the plan is to add a center lane concrete divider or if there is room for it.

Pedestrian Crossing

The bridge will also support a pedestrian crossing, with a dedicated tunnel affixed to the north side (Cemetery side). The walkway is only on the one side.

It is a fully enclosed chain link fenced tunnel which allows full air and light to flow through.

It is affixed to the outer wall of the core bridge structure, and should provide a really interesting vantage point of the busy roadway below, as well as the core Direct Connect project area alongside the cemetery.

In the photo below, obviously the ground approach work is not complete for the walkway or road… this will be corrected and made safe, but gives an indication of how much work still has to be completed.

Bellmawr Browning Road Temporary Bridge Pedestrian Walkway

The dimension of the tunnel… well it seems to be 4 or 5 feet wide, and runs the entire length of the temporary bridge which we believe to be around 240 feet long!

While it is enclosed in chain link fence material and very open… some may find it a little unnerving to cross something like this.

I know I will think twice about it. ha

But absolutely we’ll be there the first day it is open!

Utility Work

The temporary bridge work also needed to support the utilities which currently run under the Browning Road Bridge.

A variety of piping is very visible at the start of each end of the bridge, and then runs alongside the south side.

I don’t know exactly what these utilities are.

It absolutely has made this an even more complex project!

Bellmawr Temporary Bridge: Utility pipes can be seen coming out of the ground that bridge entrances, and traversing across the outside wall of the bridge.

Details on the Rebuilt Bridge

I’ve never actually asked the NJDOT for details on the new bridge.

But thanks to Jim Walsh of the CourierPost/Daily Journal, we have details that were provided by NJDOT representative Steven Schapiro

“The current bridge is about 240 feet long, and the new bridge will be 389 feet long,” he (Schapiro) said. The new bridge also will be wider, with 20-foot lanes compared to the current 18-foot lanes.

And it will be higher — “a minimum of 16 feet, six inches,” said Schapiro. “The existing bridge is 13-feet, 11-inches over the road.”

NJDOT’s Steven Shapiro to Jim Walsh of the Courier Post. Aug 9, 2021

You can read that full article here at the Daily Journal. (Note the site is paywall, so you may not be able to read)

Note that NJDOT says “minimum” of 16.5 feet… it implies to me that it could actually be higher.

Surprising also is that the bridge will be 150 feet longer!!

That’s more than an additional 50%!!

Well it’s clear to see looking at the current project site that the contractors have carved out a much wider are for the roadway underneath. The current land area for the old bridge juts out into that space. It seems the new bridge will have that cleared out, and moved back furhter.

What’s Up With the Direct Connect Collapse?

This week marks the SIX MONTH anniversary of the shocking wall and roadway collapse of the unopened large 295 elevated roadway.

And NJDOT still has not provided details on the full cause of of the collapse.

Nor do we know who is responsible (design or build), who will pay for it, how it will be fixed… and how long is the delay to fix the roadway.

NJDOT has only stated that “excessive ground water” played a part in the collapse.

It’s a start.. but very vague.

We are in contact with the 5th district legislative team, who have been having somewhat regular calls with NJDOT representatives. I know that as of mid-August, the NJDOT has not shared any solid information with the legislative team.

I feel this lack of clarity and response 6 months later warrants it’s own post. I am working out some details of the commentary, and hope to post again in a few days.

Direct Connection Collapse: March 2021 Video. Drone Image from Mike Kruce Photography

More to Come

I also visited the Missing Moves project areas, and will be posting on that project later this week.

Possible we could have three road posts this week.

I actually have a TON of things to post.

If it wasn’t apparent, I took a bit of a break over the warm summer months. Pedal to the metal now. ha


Other related posts on the projects:

Well, after some recent basic site redesign, I have moved all the road based posts under a common sub-URL. There is an obvious link image on the main page but also if you just go to it will show you all of the road construction oriented posts.

Bellmawr Browning Road Bridge: Utility Lines on the outer wall edge.