By Jay Cook |
MIDDLETOWN – Plans to reconstruct what the county calls two “structurally deficient” and “functionally obsolete” bridges and culverts along one of Middletown’s oldest roadways are in the works, Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone said earlier this week.
The two bridges both cross McClees Creek in the Chapel Hill section of Middletown. MT-18, a 19-foot-long bridge along Whipporwill Valley Road, and MT-19, a 9-foot-long bridge over Chapel Hill Road, are both small stone arch culverts in need of repair, Arnone said.
After taking inventory of county-owned bridges, Arnone said it made sense on the county’s end to go ahead and look to begin the design phase. On Aug. 10, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders granted a $269,121.38 contract to French & Parello Associates of Wall Township for design and engineering on the two reconstructions. French & Parello will provide interim reports quarterly to the freeholders. Once completed, the county will go out to bid for the construction phase of the project. The total cost of the project is not yet known.
Arnone said the project is about a year to a year and a half away, but did provide a timeline on how construction will be laid out. In total, he said, the entire construction portion would span about 12 to 18 months, depending on assistance from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection which will consider the impact to McClees Creek and its surrounding wetlands.
The Whipporwill Valley Road bridge, MT-18, would be rebuilt first. That section could take between four to six months to complete, and the road would be closed from Chapel Hill Road to Bowne Road, except for local traffic.
MT-19 is also anticipated to take about four to six months to complete. During construction, Chapel Hill Road would be closed from Sleepy Hollow Road to Kings Highway East, although local residents will have access at all times. A detour would send motorists down Sleepy Hollow Road to get around the construction area.
Arnone said the two replacements would happen one after the other to lessen the impact on Middletown residents.
“We all know that nobody likes this inconvenience, but the board has taken a real aggressive approach to upgrading our infrastructure,” he added.
Locally, elected officials are welcoming the idea of infrastructure upgrades, especially in a dated section of town like Whipporwill Valley Road.
“It’s very significant and is part of the charm of the area,” Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger said about the mile-and-a-half long unpaved road. “There’s a lot of people that like the novelty of having a road like that. It’s so historic.”
These bridge and culvert replacements are just one of a few projects happening in Middletown now that are shoring up the township’s foundation.
Last week, Monmouth County officials provided an update on the extensive Hubbard Avenue project, alongside Shadow Lake and River Plaza Elementary School.
New Jersey Natural Gas Company is replacing an existing 6-inch steel gas distribution main with a new 8-inch plastic gas main, the release said. This replacement comes after American Water Company finished another project along the roadway.
Scharfenberger said both Middletown and Monmouth County officials expect the Hubbard Avenue project to be completed by the time school begins next month. In addition to the utility work, a new crosswalk and roadway striping will be added near the elementary school. Hubbard Avenue will be completely repaved.
“All of these things, I think, are necessary,” Scharfenberger said. “They’re a bit disruptive, but it’s really good to see this happening.”
This article was first published in the Aug. 17-24, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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