Construction of the new Wittpenn Bridge began a decade ago and has caused countless traffic nightmares, but the wait is finally about to be over, state Department of Transportation officials say .
On October 1, the new span over the Hackensack River that connected Jersey City and Kearny – which cost just under $ 500 million to build – will be opened to traffic.
Kearny Police Chief George King, whose department may have been the most affected by construction, especially after access to Fish House Road was blocked from Route 7 East, said he was delighted.
“This is great news. I’m so happy to hear that it opens on October 1,” King told the Jersey Journal on Tuesday. “People might not realize how much pain all of this has caused. head to the department, but it does. If we were to go from downtown Kearny to South Kearny, we had to either take the toll highway to 15E – or go to Jersey City, maneuver there , make a U-turn then come back west or go on route 440. “
King says it wasn’t just a challenge for Kearny’s PD either. Whenever the Kearny Fire Department had to send platforms south, the firefighters had to take a similar route. When the bridge opens, King says he expects a significant improvement in response times from police, fire and EMS – and that’s the best news of all, he says.
“Before it didn’t matter that came in with lights and sirens,” King said. “Delays were everywhere no matter how they got to the area. We should see incredible improvement in the future. “
For Kearny Mayor Alberto G. Santos, who travels daily from his home in Jersey City where he works as the clerk of the Hudson County Board of Commissioners, the news of the new bridge opening is welcome.
“Not only is the existing bridge a bare-handed merry-go-round, but the temporary approaches to the old bridge from either side are also dangerous and confusing,” Santos said. “While there is a phase left on the approach to Jersey City and the exit of South Kearny that won’t be complete for another year, this is great news.”
Jersey City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said the Fulop administration is grateful to the state for its infrastructure investments in Jersey’s second largest municipality.
“We are grateful for the state’s investment in the new bridge – named after former Jersey City Mayor H. Otto Wittpenn – as we have worked locally to dramatically improve our transportation infrastructure, and the new Wittpenn Bridge is a welcome extension of one of the country’s most unique and busiest transportation hubs, ”said Wallace-Scalcione.
William W. Nilan drives a truck for a large corporation and his travels often take him from Pennsylvania to South Kearny and Jersey City. He says the last 10+ years have been anything but fun for him professionally.
“It was tough,” Nilan said. “Driving a big truck over this old bridge after going through a maze to get to it would be a challenge if it was a one-lane road in each direction. But it’s two. I am so happy to see the old one go and I am looking forward to the new one. It will make my job almost fun again. And a safer (heck) load.
Road signs on the new ramps leading to the bridge on Routes 1 and 9 are in place and signs directing drivers to the new Wittpenn Bridge are covered. They can also be seen on the new bridge by drivers traveling east on the old bridge.
The new span has 70 feet of clearance above the river, which means fewer openings and fewer traffic delays. It also has wider lanes with shoulders and sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists. The old bridge has narrow lanes, no shoulders or center separation and is lower, all difficult features that drivers will not miss.
The project was built in five phases with an expected completion date of fall 2022 and early spring 2023, said Steve Schapiro, spokesperson for NJDOT. The original completion date for the entire bridge was 2022. Project costs fell from $ 473.4 million for the five phases combined to $ 495.8 million, according to a figure announced by officials last fall.
Larry Higgs of NJ Advance Media contributed to this report.