The state is planning to overhaul a busy Route 17 overpass in 2013, and the impending roadwork has left local officials grappling with decisions on how to deal with potential traffic implications.
The state Department of Transportation is planning roadwork at the Macarthur Boulevard – Route 17 overpass to start during the spring of 2013. Local officials say the DOT was initially planning work that would cause one lane of traffic to be completely closed for the duration of the construction, which was estimated to take about 14 months.
According to Mahwah Township engineer Mike Kelly, discussions last month between officials from the DOT, Mahwah and Ramsey revealed a few different options for the construction – the complete lane closure originally proposed, or an option that would allow for one lane in each direction to remain open for the duration of the construction. However, two lanes would push the project to about 20 months, Kelly said.
Both Kelly and Ramsey borough administrator Bruce Vozeh said they recommended to the DOT that it opt for the longer-duration project.
“If there is a way to leave both lanes open to traffic, that’s what we’d prefer to do,” Vozeh said at a borough council meeting last month.
The state originally proposed to shut down the eastbound side of the road, which allows cars to travel from Island Road to Macarthur Boulevard. A detour would have been set up using a u-turn at W. Ramapo Ave. in Mahwah.
Over the summer, Mahwah asked the DOT to instead shut the overpass in the opposite direction, traveling from Macarthur Blvd. to Island Road. The detour for cars traveling southbound on Route 17 would be to u-turn at Spring Street in Ramsey.
Officials from Ramsey were “not too happy,” with that option, Kelly said at a town council meeting last week. “When the DOT said there was a way to keep two-lanes open…it seemed like a much better option.”
There would likely be some restrictions, he said. The lanes would be thinner than they usually are, with detours expected from surrounding construction. The overpass would also be closed to pedestrian traffic. Kelly said he was unsure if trucks and school buses would be able to drive on the overpass during the construction period.
A Transportation for America report released last October The report also said the Macarthur Blvd. overpass has the third highest traffic volume of all structurally deficient bridges in the state. The report estimated the bridge, built in 1956, has an annual average daily traffic rate of 157,300 cars.