NJDOT has announced that the bridge removal project for Route 42 over Blackwood Trail moves into the next big phase, which is to remove the northbound bridge overpass.
Overnight the Route 42 Northbound traffic at the project site will be shifted over to a temporary roadway which was developed in the center median.
This will leave the original Route 42 Northbound overpass bridge clear for contractors to start the process of demolishing the northbound bridge, and replace it with an raised earthen roadway foundation.
The already developed pedestrian tunnel in support of the Gloucester Township Health & Fitness trail will run underneath Route 42. (The tunnel is installed but not open for use yet)
This work is being done just north of the Black Horse Pike exits (about 1,000 feet)
To facilitate the traffic shift, tonight (Friday) starting some time after 8:00 PM, at times lanes on Route 42 North in that area will be closed as contractors repaint the striping which will be directing traffic into the center median. At least one lane will be available overnight at all times.
The goal of this full project is to address the aging Route 42 bridges over the Blackwood Trail Pedestrian Walk.
Originally Route 42 was developed in this area with tall overhead bridges to allow Conrail trains to pass underneath.
The tracks and trains no longer run underneath Route 42 here, so with this rebuild, the project’s final design it was decided the extra expense of full bridges and their ongoing maintenance costs were not needed, so instead the new build will be a raised earth roadway with a pedestrian tunnel going through it.
As part of the project Route 42 in this area will be made wider, to improve motorists driving experience when using the nearby exits.
Route 42 Over Blackwood Railroad Trail Project
The Route 42 over Blackwood Railroad Trail Bridge removal project started earlier in 2022.
The NJDOT project summary is:
The $21.3 million state-funded project will remove and replace the existing Route 42 Bridges over Blackwood Railroad Trail. In addition to constructing retaining walls, the project will extend and widen lanes, and add lighting. The project is anticipated to be completed in summer 2024.NJDOT Summary Description of Route 42 over Blackwood Railroad Trail
As mentioned originally there were Conrail train tracks running underneath Route 42 here, and to accommodate the tall trains… when Route 42 was initially developed 80 years ago the roadway was made much higher in this area with the two bridges, to give space for the trains to travel underneath.
Conrail has since stopped using the tracks and in fact years ago the tracks were removed. Today the area of the tracks is part of the Gloucester Health and Fitness Trail.
The rebuild is part of an effort to address aging transportation infrastructure. Over recent years Transportation Departments in every State have been looking at their aging infrastructure to identify bridges that are in need repair or rebuilding.
For the bridges over the Blackwood trail, NJDOT and the Federal Highway Administration determined that the bridges needed to be removed… But when it came time to rebuilding the Route 42 roadway in this segment, since trains no longer travel underneath there was really no need to spend the extra expense on making it a full open bridge structure for the two separate North and South roadways.
So in essence this portion of Route 42 will just be a raised dirt foundation.
Officials decided though that they would still like to support the pedestrian trail that runs underneath Route 42, so to support continued use of the health and fitness trail it was agreed that a large pedestrian tunnel would be built to facilitate the trail.
While vehicles are not meant to travel the pedestrian tunnel, during design phase it was decided it should be large enough to accommodate emergency vehicles and utility trucks (PSE&G High-Powered lines are overhead)
So in my mind the project comes down to three large phases
- First, install the pedestrian tunnel which was developed be a precast concrete arcjes. The core of this project is effectively done
- Second remove the 42 Northbound roadway bridge, build up the foundation underneath with packed dirt, and then rebuild route 42 North roadway in this segment.
- Third, repeat the process for the Southbound bridge, removing it and replacing with a packed earth foundation.
When I wrote about the project in September of 2022 (tunnel phase) workers were just starting to pour the concrete sidewalls for the pedestrian tunnel, ahead of the arch install.
By November of 2022 workers were already placing the very first concrete arch piece.
While I visited the project site many times since then it wasn’t until my June 2023 mega road project update and VIDEO that I posted photos of the pedestrian tunnel, basically being completely installed at that point.
In fact an American flag was hanging from the one end of the tunnel which is typically done by construction workers to signify the completion of a significant development portion
As as mentioned from the NJDOT commentary this project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2024
Links and Location
Route 42 Bridges Over Blackwood Railroad Trail
1000 ft North of Black Horse Pike