State DOT: Rt. 518 Bridge Work Could Resume In Late November

Route 518 Bridge Work - 1

The contractor working on the Route 518 bridge is preparing a schedule for its resumption, now that the state Transportation Trust Fund has been restored.

Work on the Route 518 bridge between the township and Rocky Hill should resume near the end of November, a state Department of Transportation spokesman said Oct. 27.

The $2.75 million bridge replacement project was among those stalled on July 8 when Gov. Chris Christie signed Executive Order 210, which froze funding for all state Transportation Trust Fund-funded road construction projects not deemed as essential. Christie signed the order on June 30, after the state Legislature failed to enact a gasoline tax to re-fund the TTF.

Work on the bridge spanning the Delaware & Raritan Canal began on July 6 and was supposed to have been completed in August.

Earlier this month, Christie signed a bill increasing the state gasoline tax by 23 cents a gallon, the money from which is earmarked for the TTF. This will allow those stalled projects to resume.

In September, the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders announced that it was in talks with the state DOT to offer stopgap funding for the project so that it could resume while negotiations to re-fund the TTF were ongoing.

But the gas tax increase obviated that deal.

“With the renewal of the TTF, the agreement in which Somerset County proposed to pay for the project to restart is no longer necessary,” DOT spokesman Steve Schapiro said in an email.

The project is expected to resume later in November, Schaprio said.

“I don’t have an exact date as the contractor is in the process of putting the schedule together,” he wrote.

Demolition work on the bridge started just before the project shut down. That will have to be finished, and then the bridge will be replaced, Schapiro said.

He said the DOT will make announcements when the contractor is ready to resume the work.

In August, township Mayor Phillip Kramer, Millstone Mayor Ray Heck and Rocky Hill Mayor Jeff Donahue – as well as other officials – gathered at the bridge during rush hour and held up a banner which read, “Christie Fix This Bridge.”

Christie responded later in the month by saying he couldn’t “care less what Democratic mayors think about a bridge.”

Area officials maintained that an extended closure of the bridge could threaten the lives of local residents because it will delay first responders from getting to emergencies in Franklin, Rocky Hill and Montgomery.

The stoppage has also prolonged traffic jams along Canal Road and on other crossings between the township, Hillsborough and Millstone that were initially closed by the bridge’s closure.

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