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Bridge to Nowhere

Haddon Township residents get vocal about long-stalled W. Park Boulevard bridge replacement. "The Empire State Building took a year."

Residents near the long-stalled W. Park Boulevard bridge replacement project posted a sign to show their frustration.
Residents near the long-stalled W. Park Boulevard bridge replacement project posted a sign to show their frustration.
It's not hard to find out how the locals feel about the long-stalled W. Park Boulevard bridge replacement.

"The Empire State Building took a year," a hand-written note on a detour sign on the corner of W. Park and Cuthbert boulevards reads. Actually, it took one year and 45 days, but, point taken.

So far, the effort to replace the 41-foot span of roadway over an aging bridge on W. Park Boulevard has taken one year, 79 days and counting. And, it's not scheduled to be finished until the first week of January. It was originally supposed to take less than 90 days.

The busy roadway connects Haddonfield with Collingswood, through Haddon Township, and is an alternative to the Haddon Ave. business corridor.

The reasons for the delays are copious, including a foul up with the grade of concrete poured last year that required scraping two months of work and waiting through the winter because a main natural gas line runs under the bridge. Then there were delays trying to figure out if the concrete could be saved by reinforcing it. Now, Camden County officials said the township needed to replace a sewer line under the bridge, which required the retro fit of manhole covers.

If all goes well, county officials said work could resume in about a week. Meanwhile, some residents are growing angry and skeptical about any new completion dates.

"I'm disgusted at this point" said Janice Eichmann, 74, a retired secretary who lives at the foot of the bridge at the corner of W. Park Boulevard and W. Walnut Ave. "The porta-potty outside should have it's own address. We were thinking about decorating it with a wreath for Christmas."

Wisecracking aside, Eichmann said the bridge repair is no laughing matter. She said pounding from the construction and deconstruction of the bridge has weakened the foundation of her home and apron of her driveway. A snafu with a pipe under the bridge backed up toilets in her home last week and left her without water.

She said she blames the county, which is in charge of the project, and the township for delays. County spokesman Dan Keashen has apologized for the delays during the construction.

"Our first and foremost concern is safety and to resolve the problem and have the road opened as soon as possible," Keashen said 11 months ago. 

Additional cost for the $273,388 project are expected to be paid by the contractors, he said. The general contractor is Schiavone and the concrete contractor is R.E. Pierson of Pilesgrove.

The project, which now looks like it will last for at least 17 months, is not a downer for all the neighbors.

Joe Alcorn, a retired teacher who lives across the street from Eichmann, said "For me, it's a plus."

"It's cut down on traffic substantially."

Maryann Campling December 04, 2013 at 07:17 AM
Yeah, but the Empire State Building wasn't a union-driven, public works project! I feel so bad for our Haddon Township neighbors...but that's the way things work anymore, I'm sad to say.
Steve Ahrens December 04, 2013 at 08:05 AM
I don't how unions have anything to do with this.
luis cabrera December 04, 2013 at 08:47 AM
The Unions want to Milk any project they get in the state of N.J. to the fullest ,just look at the nj turnpike it has been in construction for 52 years and counting ,look at the bridge on rt. 130,look at 295 ,they are not in the rush to get anything done on time and on budget ,after all we are paying for .
Concerned Citizen December 04, 2013 at 01:55 PM
I will believe it when I see it. Hopefully when they reopen, the road will have been repaved also. The unions have nothing to do with the delay but the contractors ought to be banned from any public jobs for at least 10 years.

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