Info session about MLK Bridge project set for Morristown, Feb. 6

Traffic crossing the Martin Luther King Avenue Bridge in Morristown. Photo courtesy of Morris County Freeholders.
Traffic crossing the Martin Luther King Avenue Bridge in Morristown. Photo courtesy of Morris County Freeholders.
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From the Morris County Freeholders:

Martin Luther King Avenue Bridge Local Concept Development Study

Morris County, in cooperation with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, state Department of Transportation, and Federal Highway Administration, will host a Public Information Center on Wednesday afternoon and evening, Feb. 6, 2019, in Morristown, to inform local residents, businesses, organizations and the public about a pending study to to consider potential remedies to deal with the heavily used and deteriorating Martin Luther King Avenue bridge, just a short distance from the downtown.

Morris County first announced in March, 2017, that NJTPA had approved funding for a study to identify improvement alternatives for the bridge, which crosses the Whippany River in Morristown.

The Public Information Center will be held from 4-7 p.m at the Mahalia Jackson Fellowship Hall of the Calvary Baptist Church,at 10 Martin Luther King Ave. A snow date of Feb. 13–same time and location– has been set. There will be brief presentations at 4:30 p.m. and again at 6 p.m.

The purpose of the meeting is to inform the public about the condition of the bridge, which has been determined to require major rehabilitation or a full replacement, and to solicit public comment about the purpose and need for the project.

For a detailed look at all aspects of the project, visit: https://mlkbridge.com/

Side view of the Martin Luther King Avenue Bridge as the Whippany River flows under. Photo courtesy of the Morris County Freeholders.
Side view of the Martin Luther King Avenue Bridge as the Whippany River flows under. Photo courtesy of the Morris County Freeholders.

Built in 1900 and widened in 1928, the Martin Luther King Avenue Bridge is classified as structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. The stone arch bridge has two lanes and is 66-feet long. It masonry arches are deteriorating and separation is visible in the spandrel walls.

The bridge is located near residential and commercial buildings and has a high volume of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. It provides an important transportation connection for residents and commuters into and out of downtown Morristown.

It is adjacent to the Abbett Avenue playground and Patriot’s Path, a 35-mile trail in Morris County that stretches from East Hanover to Washington Township.

Community involvement is a vital part of the process, and community members and all interested residents are strongly encouraged to participate during the study period.
About the Study

The Local Concept Development (LCD) process will develop a purpose and need statement, which will be used to evaluate conceptual alternatives. The range of alternatives to be studied, will include:

  • A “no-build” or “do nothing” alternative
  • Major rehabilitation of the bridge
  • Bridge replacement

As the bridge serves many varied interests, the LCD Study process is designed to enable full public participation. Future plans for the Martin Luther King Avenue Bridge will be presented to the public so that the community’s voices are heard.

During the LCD Study, the Project Team will coordinate with representatives from the NJDOT, Federal Highway Administration, Morris County, Town of Morristown and other stakeholders.

What are the Components of a LCD Study?

Public Outreach: The project team will prepare a Public Involvement Action Plan (PIAP) to outline the public participation process during the Study. Public Outreach, an important component of a LCD study, helps guide the planning process by facilitating public input.

Existing Conditions: The project team will gather data from the Martin Luther King Avenue Bridge area including traffic conditions, crash data, local demographics, and environmental information to inform the LCD Study, in order to inform future recommendations.

Developing the Purpose and Need Statement: The project team will prepare a statement that explains the project’s purpose, need, and goals and objectives. This statement will define the problem that needs to be addressed and describe other issues that need to be considered as part of the overall solution.

Alternatives Analysis: The project team will consider possible conceptual alternatives to meet the purpose and need and goals and objectives. Engineers will provide technical information for each alternative. The range of options as possible conceptual alternatives will include a “no-build” alternative, major rehabilitation, and replacement.  Local officials, community stakeholders, and the public will have an opportunity to contribute to the development of conceptual alternatives.

Final Recommendation: Once the conceptual alternatives have been identified, the project team will incorporate data collected from public outreach, existing conditions, environmental screening, constructability, estimated costs and create an alternatives analysis matrix to recommend a preliminary preferred option, called a Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA).

The Team will develop a conceptual plan for the PPA as part of the final Concept Development Report. Once a Preliminary Preferred Alternative is recommended with resolution of support by the municipalities and the County, and with concurrence from the Inter-Agency Review Committee (IRC), the project would move to the Local Preliminary Engineering phase.

More information on the LCD process is available here. Read the March 30, 2017, press release.

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