Gloucester City’s Klemm Avenue local roadway reopened on Friday after being closed for almost 2 years, as contractors worked to rebuild the I-76 bridge overpass above. Additional I-76 overpass work is still to come.
Klemm Avenue is a key connector road for the Highland Park community of Gloucester City, providing easy access to Route 130 and the 42/295 roadways.
This final local road reopening signifies the successful completion of the $57.2 million I-76 over Klemm Ave. overpass rebuild.
This is exciting news for NJDOT and its contractor South State, as this is the second major project for the area which was completed within the last few weeks. Just two miles away the $180 million Missing Moves project in Bellmawr opened just at the end of November… and commuters have been ecstatic with the results!
So we are all happy to see the completion of these two projects… but I have to caution that there are two more large segments of I-76 projects still to come.
I76 Klemm Ave Overpass
This Gloucester City project for the I-76 over Klemm Ave Overpass was necessary because that segment of roadway and bridge had reached a high level of deterioration, raising heightened concerns for State and Federal highway officials.
The I-76 roadway in this area had been developed in 1956, and with 200,000 vehicles traveling across the overpass every day all facets of the overpass were wearing down… its condition had been described as “rapidly deteriorating” by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
This is one segment of a larger full I-76 rebuild through this area but due to the concerns over this specific “I-76 over Klemm Ave” overpass, it was split off into its own contract so that contractors could focus sooner on this more concerning overpass first.
Crews have moved through the entire construction process very quickly and seemingly on time. The project was completed while traffic still traveled the roadway, creating the need for significant lane shifting.
While we experienced traffic challenges over the summer, engineering and construction worked to minimize impacts… even utilizing a moveable center barrier divider to adjust lane counts in accordance to rush-hour traffic flows from morning to evening.
About six weeks ago the overpass road surface was returned to full five lanes in each direction, but at the time crews were still working on rebuilding the center concrete divider.
So the last month and a half has been focused on building the highway’s center divider, additional I-76 asphalt repaving and stripe work… and then finally the reopening of Klemm Ave.
This project appears to have been delivered on time and on budget with no perceived delays in the construction.
NJDOT and South State (contractor) utilized an accelerated bridge construction method which had large decking panels manufactured off site, and a massive crane was utilized to maneuver and drop the decking panels in place on the roadway.
This panel/decking implementation design significantly reduced the amount of time crews spent working directly on the roadway… in comparison to the alternative of building massive frames and pouring concrete directly on site.
That crane was the talk of South Jersey for several months as it was literally the tallest crane I think any of us have ever seen in operation in the area, not to mention its prominent positioning on such a busy roadway… there was no hiding it from anyone!
I-76 More To Come – Two More Projects
The full goal of this I-76 through Gloucester City initiative is to replace basically all of the immediate area overpasses. Klemm Avenue was just the largest span and the one in most dire need of being addressed first.
There are two other multi-overpass efforts still to take place, both to the North and South of Klemm Ave.
I don’t know the full timing on them and I will be asking NJDOT officials for an update but my understanding is there is a desire to have all of this work completed timely.
I-76 Nicholson Road / Newtown Creek
One aspect I’ve already talked about multiple times is the I-76 Bridges over Nicholson Road and Newton Creek. While not as long a span as the Klemm Avenue project, there are additional challenges to this project particularly with two of the bridges being positioned so close to Newton Creek. They will also be widened.
I believe a preliminary contract to move utilities which ran along the Nicholson Road overpass has already been addressed.
So then there is a third phase of I-76 projects is something I haven’t really talked much about…
The State calls it Route 76, Bridges Over Route 130.
Honestly, for the most part I didn’t fully understand this as one of the aspects of South Jersey projects. There isn’t a master overhead map which calls these things out! Fortunately there are many budgetary oriented project summary documents online and with their short descriptions I can piece together what they are looking to achieve.
It’s a true test of my reading comprehension skills.. it brings me back to my grade school days!
So this project is… in that area of Route 130 Gloucester City around Royal Farms and the Super 8 motel, the north and southbound sides of Route 130 separate wide apart… and they both still go underneath I-76.
So this third contract is to address the I-76 roadway overpasses over those two segments of Route 130.
Well it’s actually three segments of overpasses. There is a ramp from 130 North to 76Northbound (close to Liquor Barn) that will also be addressed.
Once I get updates on timing for these two facets of projects, I will publish another article with all of the details, as well as a starting point photos.
Who knows… maybe a video!