Opinion: Mercer County To Spend $1.88 Million Replacing Abandoned Railroad “Bridge To Nowhere”

October 19, 2021

Opinion:

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mercer County sent a press release this morning informing us that Parkside Avenue in the City of Trenton will be closed for approximately 5 months for a replacement of a “bridge carrying an abandoned railroad trail” This abandoned “trail” is blocked off on several sections and has signs saying “No Trespassing” and that the property is owned by CSX Transportation, Inc. This “trail” runs Parallel to Oakland Street and Homan Avenue. A quick Google measurement shows that the current worn foot path or “trail” runs just less than a 1/2 mile from Maple Avenue in a southerly direction ending approximately at Edgemere Avenue. On the north end at Hillcrest the railroad right of way is gone and houses have been built over it so there could be no expansion for a “rail to trail” for the neighborhood north into Ewing Township. In the southerly direction the right of way is less clear since it appears that others have built over it, paved sections for parking lots or fenced the right of way. There appear to be no CSX signs south of Ellsworth Avenue.

Multiple fences and signage in the area of Hoffman Avenue indicate that this “trail” is indeed on private property and users are currently trespassing by going around the fences. This area is known to some of the most serious gun violence and shooting deaths in the City of Trenton the past few years. A visit to the site and “trail” today showed the area covered with trash, empty beer and liquor bottles, needles and used condoms strewn about the area.

According to the press release a $1,885,277.00 bid was awarded at the Mercer County Board of Commissioners meeting on October 7.

In our opinion this is a “Bridge To Nowhere” because the current “trail” is illegal because it is currently on private property and clearly marked “No Trespassing” Instead of a bridge replacement the County should perform a bridge removal at a lower cost to the taxpayers. If indeed one day the City or County does acquire the property for a trail a lower cost pedestrian type bridge could be used similar to many used in County and State Parks for foot traffic. I can think of a lot better projects that Mercer County could have spent $1.88+ Million Dollars on that would have done a lot of good for the County.


Mercer County Press Release 10/19/2021

The Mercer County Department of Transportation and Infrastructure will start the replacement of the bridge carrying an abandoned railroad trail over Parkside Avenue in the City of Trenton on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. It is one of 17 County bridge projects in progress, including those in the design stage, according to County Executive Brian M. Hughes.

Officially known as Bridge #180.1, the structure is located between Oak Lane and Oakland Street. This project is to be completed in 150 calendar days, weather permitting.

During construction, Parkside Avenue between Oak Lane and Oakland Street will be closed to vehicular traffic on a 24/7 basis. Pedestrians will be provided a safe passage through the site during construction. A detour will be posted directing motorists to West State Street to Sullivan Way to Lower Ferry Road and Parkway Avenue, ending on Parkside Avenue.

The existing bridge carrying an abandoned railroad trail over Parkside Avenue is a concrete-encased steel girder bridge. The structure is in poor condition, extremely deteriorated and poses a hazard due to the potential of falling concrete debris.

The replacement bridge will be a single-span structure supported on full-height concrete abutments. The superstructure will consist of precast prestressed beams with a composite reinforced concrete deck. The substructure will be full-height reinforced concrete abutments founded on cast-in-place spread footings. The proposed structure was designed to identically match the aesthetics of the existing structure while being upgraded to meet current New Jersey Department of Transportation standards.

The successful bidder for the project was Rencor Inc. of Somerville, which submitted a bid price of $1,885,277. Rencor Inc. has successfully completed similar projects in Mercer County and provided the lowest bid price for this project. The contract was approved by the Mercer County Board of Commissioners on Oct. 7.