Haley promises Higginsville Road
bridge replacement will be expedited
Transportation Commissioner John J. Haley Jr. said today that the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) met with representatives from Conrail to discuss a swift replacement of the Higginsville Road bridge, which was demolished by a Conrail freight train on May 30.
"We were all very fortunate that this accident did not result in any loss of life or an endangerment of the surrounding residents due to a release of toxic substances," Commissioner Haley said. "However, Conrail trains are rolling and the residents of Readington Township and other motorists who use the Higginsville Road bridge are not. I want to ensure that they are inconvenienced as short a time as possible."
Haley said Conrail will replace the steel truss bridge with a span similar to that used in Winslow Township (Camden County) last month when a bridge carrying Route 571 over a Conrail line was destroyed by an overweight crane.
The NJDOT will supervise the installation of the replacement bridge at an appropriate height to accommodate freight shipments from one of Conrail’s customers farther down the Lehigh Valley line, Haley said. Conrail was in the process of obtaining necessary state approvals to raise the former span approximately one foot. The plan was under review by the NJDOT at the time of the accident.
The Higginsville Road bridge, circa early 1900s, was technically an "orphan," meaning it at one time spanned the right-of-way over a defunct railroad. However, the state Legislature made the NJDOT responsible for all bridges for which no individual or entity claimed responsibility.
The NJDOT had recently inspected the bridge on May 22 and found it structurally sound. The department also made repairs, including the replacement of decking planks and timber beams, to the span in May 1995.