Crews yesterday arrived at the Route 295 collapsed curved wall roadway in Bellmawr, to begin the process of tearing down a large portion of a damaged large retaining wall and roadway, ahead of full reconstruction efforts.
The $900 Million “Direct Connection” roadway project centered in Bellmawr NJ, two years ago experienced a failure in an segment of the not-opened-yet raised roadway. The future raised Route 295 located alongside New St Mary’s cemetery, experienced foundation shifting (outwards) causing the retaining wall to move out, which then collapsed the roadway.
For two years NJDOT engineers, contractors and other experts have been examining the cause of the collapse, as well as a plan forward to correct the failure.
I had an unofficial tip that things might start Monday, as well as a loyal reader messaging me early in the morning “hey they are doing something at the wall”… so I shot over to Bellmawr early this morning.
But then I realized that President Biden was due in Philadelphia Monday which restricts drone flying for a wide area! A quick check with the FAA showed I had until 9am to fly!
Around 8am I positioned myself on the other side of 76/42 from the collapsed wall, capturing aspects of what is taking place with the demolition of the wall.
First let me say the crews wasted no time kicking into gear yesterday morning, as by 8am they already were attacking things in three different fronts.
So as of this morning there were three different demolition efforts taking place which I’ll describe in a second.
I have a few questions in to NJDOT regarding the status of the overall project… I will be putting together a road project video this week (I have new drone imagery from the weekend) and will include those details in the video!
Keep scrolling and reading for more on the Route 295 Direct Connection demolition observations.
Route 295 Wall Collapsed Roadway Demolition
I was across from the site for about an hour this morning, which gives me a clear (but distant) view of the project progression.
Unfortunately the sun was positioned to be a little bit too direct into the drone lens, which caused some haziness in the imagery. (btw, have I mentioned I am an FAA 107 Certified Drone Pilot? Just in case someone wonders)
As mentioned there were three different core pieces of equipment operating in different sections of the raised roadway
Crane: Route 295 Demo
On the upper roadway segment on the South end, a large crane appeared this morning to remove the sound barrier walls. This crane was not on site just 24 hours ago, as I had the drone up yesterday also!
The crane was working with ground crews who would attach the crane’s lead to the massive concrete sound barrier panels. The crane operator would then lift the panels straight up to free them from the supports, and then the operator was skillfully stacking them flat, off to the side.
I saw at least two panels get removed in the hour I was there.
Hammer Excavator: Route 295 Demo
Also on the top roadway portion is an excavator with a jack-hammer attachment, used to break through heavy concrete, asphalt and other materials.
Initially it was on the North side of the exposed roadway. It appeared to be breaking away portions of the roadway and guardrail, in the section above where the base excavator was clearing out the fill from the raised roadway.
The hammer excavator then moved over too the South side of the exposed roadway, and was breaking up a portion of the roadway. Exposed concrete maybe?
Excavator At Base: Route 295 Demo
The third area was at the base of the collapsed wall segment at northern edge.
An excavator is attacking the core raised roadway segment at the point where the exposed raised roadway surface starts.
It was using it’s bucket to remove dirt and sand from the core raised roadway filler, and then moving the dirt into a long dump truck
Things were going well for me to actually be able to capture images before the flight restrictions kicked in, but I missed one great video opportunity with the excavator at the base of the wall.
I had been focused on that exact spot where the guardrail was ripped off, before the excavator had taken it out. But decided to shift over to the right and see what the crane was up to. I came back seconds later just as the dust and smoke cloud from the excavator removing the guardrail was in the air! I missed it. Well, I did capture the piece of heavy protective guardrail as it hung from the top of the retaining wall.
As I was getting ready to leave, the excavator at the base also pulled off a couple MSE retaining wall panels! That I got on video!
Links and Locations
NJDOT Direct Connection – Bellmawr NJ
Where Routes 295, 42 and 76 meet
I have extensive coverage on both Direct Connection and Missing Moves.
Click here to access. All free to read!