A bridge slated for replacement in Edison along a stretch of Oak Tree Road that connects the township with South Plainfield is the focus of a New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) virtual information session.
The session, formally known as a Public Information Center (PIC), is being conducted online today through April 1 at oaktreeroadoverconrail.com.
The PIC affords all members of the public – including local residents, business owners, and government officials – an opportunity to pose questions and learn about a preliminary engineering plan for the bridge replacement.
Analysis of the bridge stems from a budget resolution request Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. and Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak made during a previous legislative session.
The request led to the appropriation of $350,000 from the Transportation Trust Fund to study and design a widening of the Oak Tree Road Bridge, which current NJDOT Bridge Inspection Report Ratings indicate is “structurally deficient” and “functionally obsolete.”
Structurally deficient does not indicate the bridge is unsafe for travel, according to NJDOT, but does indicate increased maintenance is required to keep the bridge in a state of good repair.
“Building a new bridge that complies with current design standards and eliminates any inadequacies would improve the overall safety for drivers and pedestrians, which is paramount,” Diegnan and Karabinchak said in a joint statement.
The bridge runs east to west and carries Oak Tree Road over the Conrail Lehigh Valley railroad line. The bridge is located a short distance from the Oak Tree Road and Woodland Avenue intersection near the South Plainfield border.
Local and regional commuters depend on this important bridge connection.
Businesses are near the project corridor. The greater surrounding area includes shopping centers, the Oak Tree Volunteer Fire Company stationhouse, the North Edison Baseball and Softball complex, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, and residences.
The roadway in the project area running east to west is what is considered an Urban Minor Arterial with one travel lane in each direction and no shoulders.
The average daily two-way traffic count along the 35-mile-per-hour roadway is approximately 23,000 vehicles. The roadway is under Middlesex County’s jurisdiction.
The main bridge span, according to NJDOT, is fracture critical due to the structure type and requires replacement.
The installation of ADA-compliant curb ramps and crosswalks at an intersection neighboring the bridge to provide full access for all pedestrians is being considered.
Safety features such as the guide rail, connections and parapets are outdated and require replacement.
NJDOT reports a substandard 5-foot wide sidewalk in the eastbound direction and the absence of a sidewalk in the westbound direction.
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Additional substandard items of that section of Oak Tree Road include substandard stopping sight distance for the vertical sag curves on either side of the bridge, indicating the roadway grades through the bridge area are too steep for comfortable sight distance, according to NJDOT.
NJDOT reports existing substandard stopping sight distance at the non-signalized intersection of Oak Tree Road with Harding Avenue located directly east of the bridge. Vehicles departing Harding Avenue currently do not have the required view to detect vehicles travelling over the Oak Tree Road Bridge as they enter onto Oak Tree Road, according to NJDOT.
The proposed design eliminates all deficiencies and substandard or undesirable items. The new bridge cross section would meet requirements for lane, shoulder, and sidewalk widths.
NJDOT considers transportation needs, environment, community concerns and costs in developing its improvement plans.
A final design phase for the three-span bridge, originally constructed in 1931, will commence this fall.
The construction phase of the project, if approved, would not commence until Spring 2028.