NJ Department of Transportation is conducting a Public Direct Connect Project update on Wednesday, April 7th! You need to register in advance to listen in, and you can submit questions. Plus, ANOTHER 42Freewway commentary/drone video (Below)
VIDEO AT BOTTOM OF THE POST!
The core content of this is the video at the bottom of this post… but I summarize here in the website.
Direct Connect 295 Bellmawr Roadway Collapse
As widely reported in media and 42Freeway, on Thursday March 25th, a large segment of retaining wall and roadway for the massive Direct Connect project for Routes 295 and 42 in Bellmawr New Jersey… collapsed.
In a video on March 28th, area retail and road (commerce) website 42Freeway published a post and video of the project, including some theories.
From our prior post we explained the project as:
Direct connect is a $900 Million dollar project, centered in Bellmawr New Jersey (Camden County) with the core intent to straighten out Route 295 and to alleviate the very confusing interchange where 295, 42, and 676 meet.
The 42Freeway post and video stirred a lot of interest and comments… mostly were positive towards the content mainly just due to awareness brought to the project.
Many offered their own theories.. and we talk about them below.
NJDOT Direct Connect Project Update: And Assemblyman Bill Moen
On Monday morning, Mark from 42Freeway received an email from New Jersey’s Fifth Legislative District Assemblyman, Bill Moen.
Bill explained he follows the 42Freeway posts, and saw my Direct Connect collapse video and post.
Bill was looking for answers also.. but also inquired about my comments on the lack of proactive communications on the Direct Connect projects.
In my video I had called out.. that when asked directly, NJDOT is responsive to reply. But the proactive explanations for the public, and even clear project descriptions, are very lacking.
Assemblyman Moen said he too was looking for answers.
And he and the 5th District team delivered… They sent a letter to NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti and…
… the Direct Connect Project Update has been scheduled for this Wednesday!
Well a big THANK YOU also to Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti!
You need to register in advance. Registration is specific to a viewer.
You can email or use the online registration link
42Freeway Questions and Suggestions
A few topics that 42Freeway would like to be addressed if possible… and a suggestion or two.
This really goes without saying:
- What is the cause of the roadway collapse?
- What is the plan to correct it?
- What are the costs to correct this issue?
- Are the other roadways and retaining walls safe?
- What are the time impacts to the overall project
- When are cars expected to be using the new elevated 295 roadway? What were original expectations?
A December 29, 2019 article at NJ.com gives an update on the project, and a NJDOT spokesperson informs:
That schedule is off by about two years from a 2022 completion date because some modifications had to be made to pre-cast pier designs.
It would be great to get additional details on the pier redesigns.
- What was the core reason for the redesign?
- What portion of the project were these piers?
- Was this foundation related? Was ground stability or drainage a factor?
Browning Road Bridge: Temporary and Final
We’ve learned from an article at Construction Equipment Guide (Feb 11, 2021) that most things are worked out on the Temporary Browning Road bridge.. and they are securing additional work area to assemble the bridge.
- What is the general theme of the 2-3 year delay in the start of the temporary bridge deck construction?
- When will the temporary bridge install start?
- When are cars expected to be diverted to it?
- When does the final Browning Road bridge rebuild start?
- When will cars be using the new, final Browning Road Bridge
- Does the delay in the Browning Road bridge work, delay the large overhead 295 elevated roadways?
Proactive Project Updates
More of a suggestion than a question from 42Freeway.com (and residents)
- Give us regularly updated, specific and understandable updates on the two Camden County project… directly from NJDOT.
- Preferably dedicated sections on the NJDOT website, which chronologically show the progress of the project
- Show “what was completed, what is next, and what the issues are”
In the video below, Mark shares a website of the Colorado DOT where they faced a similar retaining wall/roadway collapse.. and how they handled the communications aspect
Drone Video: Already Tearing Down the Wall!
In the video below, Mark shares video from last Thursday where the crews are already taking down the impacted retaining wall.
Drone Video provide by Mike Kruce Photography.
It’s also clear to see they have already leveled out the large humps that appeared in front of the wall.
The scope of the roadway collapse is very evident when you factor in the size of the CAT equipment seen in the video.
Theory Update: Readers Speak!
From the prior post we got a LOT of comments and messages.
Most were on board with bringing additional awareness to the project.
Some followed along with Mark’s theory… well one or two called out “Don’t even try…. you aren’t a civil engineer”
Well.. I do have an Editorial Opinion and I put my neck out there with it. If anything, it definitely helped bring awareness to the issue.. and the Project Update meeting Wednesday is part of the outcome
The missing link I left out seems to be WATER!
Several readers brought up water impacts on a project like this, with two different themes.
- Water Drainage: Is the water being properly drained off the top of the project roadway? If not, water will find its way and it could get underneath the surface and impact stability.
- Lower Foundation Water: Several commented that the area was marshy wetlands. You absolutely can build on that, but extra care needs to be taken to remediate the water… and make sure it doesn’t come back
While I was on point with pressure (if not obvious) the core theme was… water is involved in some way, to impact the stability of the core foundation and cause a SLIDE… The roadway slid down and out from the embankment.
Well hopefully come Wednesday we’ll know the full details.
Bellmawr: Living in a Construction Zone and Getting…
I think the Project Update should probably stick with topics directly related to the project as it is only an hour.. but realizing I have folks’ attention, let me call out a few things about Bellmawr and this project, where I feel the residents have had to give, give, give.. and when they asked for something…
While other towns are listed as being impacted by the construction of Direct Connect and Missing Moves, no one is going to deny the core of this construction effort is in Bellmawr.
Impacting Bellmawr residents daily life, requiring homes to be relocated, load construction noises…
and for what? Where is Bellmawr’s win in this?
Bellmawr Park Homes
In the Bellmawr Park housing development, h0mes were relocated.. again. Again because this happened originally in the 50s, and now for this Direct Connect project it has happened again.
In the new project, several multi-family units were relocated from the core Bellmawr Park neighborhood.
Quality of Life
Construction dirt and dust.
Loud noises. Pile drivers pushing support posts. THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. Shaking homes
The 40+ Foot Wall
Still to come.. is the massive 40ft barrier and elevated roadways through the center of town! I don’t think residents are fully aware of this!
What Bellmawr didn’t get:
Missing Moves Exit
The new Missing Moves project will solve the missing connectors of 295 and 42.
This actually has some direct benefit for Bellmawr, in that currently countless drivers are forced to get off the highways and travel the Bellmawr local road system.. and with the completion of Missing Moves, the towns should see some reduction in local traffic.
But one aspect the town asked for that they could net get.. .was an exit off of 295 or the Missing Moves road, in the area of the landfill.
This would’ve been beneficial for local residents, but was also a big “ask” of potential development projects for the landfill acreage.
I know this was asked for… but to be fair I don’t know the details of what happened with it.
Hugg Harrison Glover House
People have lived within the Bellmawr boundaries for hundreds of years… but most of that time it was farmland and woods.
In the early days of our country it did not develop into a full town, and has a limited known history because of it.
One connecting piece to a time long lost was the Hugg Harrison Glover House… which is now gone.
The house was located in the back corner of the cemetery and dated back to the 1700s.
While organizations and politicians were trying to save the house, and even have it moved.
It was surprisingly demolished one morning, to make room for the roadway project.
Bellmawr’s last connecting piece to its mostly unknown history… gone.
Direct Connect Project Update: Register!
Register online with this link.