For South Jersey commuters driving I-76 (Gloucester City) and 42 North, a big win was achieved early this morning as all five lanes of I-76 are open in each direction, bringing the roadway back to its original configuration.
As we reported a few weeks ago, the $57.2 million project to replace the I-76 bridge over Klemm Avenue in Gloucester City is nearing completion, and commuters are likely very happy about that.
While I was not on the roadway this morning to fully confirm traffic conditions, this should reduce some of the traffic jam ups we’ve experienced in this area (and roads approaching) during 2023… particularly the morning commute heading from 42North towards Philadelphia.
Technically there are are actually 11 lanes now open for traffic on the overpass as the traffic entering I-76 from Market Street has it’s own dedicated acceleration lane over the bridge surface, making it 6 lanes over the newly decked overpass.
Over the summer the decking/overpass rebuild project worked on 1/3 of the deck lanes at one time. This required lane reductions and shifts…. at times reducing five lanes into three.
That reduction and traffic consolidation in lanes would lead to frustrating traffic delays as cars slowed down to merge into fewer lanes, particularly the morning rush hour commute of traffic heading up Route 42 North.
NJDOT and contractors managed the reduced lane capacity as best the could, by utilizing a moveable center concrete median which could increase lanes to match the largest flow of traffic at a given time of day.
Fortunately for me I no longer drive the route every morning, so I can only say that it is possible commuters had already noticed some improvements.. we’ll see in the Facebook comments! N
But looking at my drone images from just three weeks ago its surprising to me how much work was completed in the last few weeks with new noise lanes and making additional lanes available, so I would imagine some improvements!?
Actually if you consider that the core deck and steel support structure aspects of the project started just about 7 months ago… well it’s very impressive the entire process or removing old decking and steel supports, new support and decking install.. plus noise barriers, were all done in 7 months!
So as of this morning it’s five lanes coming off of Route 42 North, five lanes heading onto I-76, and five lanes continuing through onto the bridges and Route 676!
I-76 at Klemm Ave – More To Come
Just three weeks ago I shared an update on this project and stated it was in it’s final weeks of construction!
And while today marks a big milestone in the I-76 Klemm Ave project, there are still some key aspects under development which should be completed before the end of the year.
That being said, the elements remaining specific to to I-76 over Klemm Ave likely won’t have significant commuter impact.
Underneath the bridge/overpass, Gloucester City’s local road Klemm Avenue has been closed since the Spring of 2022. Today Klemm Ave remains closed, but it appears construction crews are focused on the Klemm Ave impacted area,
The original project press release from 2022 said Klemm would be closed until 2024, but recent press releases have said the project will be completed in the Fall of 2023… so I expect Klemm Ave to reopen before the year ends.
Back up on the I-76 road surface there are additional efforts still taking place to build a new permanent center median, but I expect that aspect will not have impacts on commuters (no reduction of lanes).
Today, a wide multiple lane center area of the roadway is barriered off as contractors start work on creating a permanent concrete median to separate the North and South traffic lanes.
This median needed to be the last I-76 roadway aspect implemented as during the project, traffic has had to of been shifted left and right at times to accommodate the decking replacement, which was done in 1/3 segments. This meant at times traffic was driving down the center of I-76 (where the median is being developed now)
So over the final months of the construction project we may see some additional overnight shifting of lanes when that center median is finished, and the traffic lanes are shifted over into their final location… likely with an added roadway shoulder.
Overall this project has gone very smoothly and appears to be significantly ahead of schedule. As mentioned the more recent NJDOT press releases state a completion of Fall 2023, when the project was originally estimated with a Spring 2024 timeframe.
One construction technique that was used on this project to speed up the onsite construction timeline is called Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABS) which used prefabricated materials such as the concrete decking panels, which were made off site in advance and then moved into place via a massive crane.
Not only was the full concrete decking replaced on top of the I-76 but also the steel support structure underneath the decking is 100% new, and the massive column supports holding everything up we’re refurbished.
Additionally noise walls along the bridge and approach were replaced, as well as new overhead sign structures added.
Still To Come: I-76 Bridges Over Nicholson Rd and Newton Creek
This I-76 Bridge Over Klemm Ave is just one portion of a larger project to rebuild bridges along the stretch of I-76 roadway which lead to the Walt Whitman Bridge.
The bridges which travel over top of Nicholson Road and Newtown Creek are also slated to be replaced in a similar fashion.
.Since I just wrote about this next phase just a few weeks ago it’s best to go check out that article for project details.
Unfortunately I do not have a timeline on this next large(er) phase. I still need to email NJDOT for an update, and will do that now!