Drivers should prepare for some extra traffic going south on Route 15 toward Route 80 starting this weekend. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) plans to being construction on the Route 15 southbound bridge deck over the abandoned Mt. Hope Mineral railroad in Wharton at the approach to the Route 15 southbound/Interstate 80 eastbound split ramp on Friday.
The initial construction zone will be set up on Friday night on the left (northeastern) half of the bridge. To accommodate this work, NJDOT said it will reduce Route 15 southbound from four travel lanes over the bridge to two travel lanes, which will be maintained on the right (southwestern) half of the bridge. This new traffic pattern will be in place by the end of the weekend.
- Route 15 southbound motorists headed to I-80 eastbound will need to stay in the left-lane entering the construction zone.
- Motorists continuing on Route 15 southbound will need to stay in the right lane entering the construction zone.
The Route 15 southbound and I-80 eastbound split ramps will each reopen to two travel lanes past the construction zone. New ground-mounted signs are being installed, and the existing overhead signs are being modified to direct motorists as necessary, the DOT said.
The $1.7 million project will replace the existing structurally deficient bridge deck and parapets, as well as make repairs to the concrete bridge approaches. NJDOT will replace the bridge in two stages, maintaining two lanes of Route 15 southbound traffic at all times. The bridge reconstruction work is expected to be completed this winter.
Following that, a new overhead sign structure will be installed at this location under a separate contract. NJDOT will then resurface Route 15 southbound on either side of the bridge between Parker Road and the I-80 interchange. According to the NJDOT, the project is anticipated to be completed in late spring.
The bridge was originally built in 1957 and has deteriorated over time, requiring reconstruction. Originally the Route 15 structure spanned the Mt. Hope Mineral Railroad. The railroad is no longer in existence and the railroad corridor is now used as part of the Morris County Park Commission’s Trail System. The Picatinny Arsenal also maintains an underground sewer line within the abandoned railroad corridor.
Variable message signs have been installed to inform motorists regarding any changes in traffic patterns. Motorists are also encouraged to check NJDOT’s traffic information website www.511nj.org for construction updates and real-time travel information.