A $57.2 million project to replace the I-76 bridge over Klemm Ave in Gloucester City is nearing completion with all new decking and steel superstructure in place across the entire span.
One third of the lanes are still being utilized by construction crews as they finish work to replace the sound barrier walls on the westbound side of I-76, but the more challenging decking efforts are complete.
The project has been targeted for a fall opening, and a NJDOT Facebook posts from last month says the majority of the project will be competed “by November 2023” (Facebook)
Adding to the exciting commuter news for the extended roadway span is that the larger Missing Moves project in Bellmawr is also expected to be completed before the end of the year. (Missing Moves Sept Update)
This is excellent news for commuters in the area as reductions of lanes over the summer for the I-76 Klemm Ave project had created traffic jams on I-76 roadway.
With all of this exiting news of big road projects soon to be completed, I have to call out that unfortunately additional I-76 work is coming and possibly could stary next year. Contract 3 is to replace the I-76 Roadway over Nicholson Road and Newton Creek (676/76). I’ll overview that effort a bit at the bottom of this article, but more details will come from me in a future article. (April 2021 Intro Article)
I-76 Over Klemm Ave Bridge Rebuild – October 2023
In my visit Sunday to I-76 over Klemm Ave it appears a current core focus for the project is to replace the sound barriers on the westbound side of I-76.
Additionally, roadway asphalt on either side of the new concrete bridge decking needs to be repaved, guardrails added… and I believe a permanent center divider will be constructed.
But it seems the hard work is done with all of the bridge decking roadway and steel superstructure replaced. The project also refurbished the bridge support columns.
The I-76 roadway in this area crosses over Klemm Ave, Conrail tracks and the South Branch Newton Creek.
The roadway is a main artery connecting Southern New Jersey to Philadelphia, Camden and then further north through Cherry Hill and further.
As part of the construction effort Gloucester City’s Klemm Avenue roadway has been closed for over a year.
NJDOT estimates that I-76 in this area carries an average of 200,000 cars each day!
While a vital piece of the transportation puzzle in South Jersey, over 10 years ago this bridge overpass was determined by the Federal Highway Administration to be “structurally deficient”.
A 2021 report by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission explains how this Klemm Ave bridge project was separated off from the larger full redecking project so it could be reprioritized and moved to the top of projects in need of being addressed.
As you’ll see in the images I have here as well as what I’ve posted over the last 18 months… not only was the decking itself replaced but the underlying steel support structure is all brand new.
The bridge replacement project was done in three segments utilizing Accelerated Bridge Construction Methods where large panels of concrete decking were created off site (in advance), and then dropped in place by a massive crane.
To keep traffic flowing while rebuilding could take place, the roadway lanes were basically divided into three segments; westbound traffic, eastbound traffic, construction/rebuild.
Over the months of construction this required lane shifting of traffic as the construction crews moved on to the next segments.
To facilitate safer traffic movement and to accommodate the varying amounts of traffic flow from morning and evening commutes, the project utilized a movable barrier system very similar to what has been in place for years on the Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman bridges.
While a lot of thought was put into minimizing the impact of traffic it was still inevitable that some slowdown was experienced particularly when multiple lanes of traffic heading towards Philadelphia had to be reduced by one or two lanes.
Overall this project has moved along very nicely and it appears that it will be completed within the originally determined time frames.
But while this is excellent news for commuters who have suffered through a summer time of traffic jam UPS, there is still more driving challenges to come in the future for I-76.
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.
This new effort is identified as Contract 3 of the “676/76 Bridges and Repavement Project” and is listed in NJDOT documents as being funded for 2024… but at this point I do not see an actual project start date.
The Contract 3 segment is a larger effort and consists of three different bridges.
- I-76 over Nicholson Rd.
- Westbound I-76 over Newton Creek Main Branch
- I-676 South over Newton Creek Main Branch
A preliminary project to move utilities which run under the Nicholson Rd. overpass has been underway in 2023 ahead of the larger “Contract 3” project.
A May NJDOT 2023 press release states that the larger effort was still in the design phase.
I don’t fully know the status on Contract 3, but I will ask the media team for an update.