About the Project

Morris County is advancing the design for the replacement of the Martin Luther King Avenue Bridge over the Whippany River in the Town of Morristown. The replacement of the bridge will improve its structural, geometric and operational deficiencies, enhance safety and provide efficient crossing for all modes of transportation, including pedestrians and bicycles.

The Martin Luther King Avenue Bridge (Structure No. 1400-118) crosses over the Whippany River within the Town of Morristown in Morris County. The 66-foot long bridge provides an important transportation connection for residents and commuters in the Town of Morristown, serving as a route across the Whippany River.

Project Background

The Martin Luther King Avenue Bridge was originally built in 1822. The bridge is a three span, closed spandrel stone arch (roadway), widened to the north circa 1883 with a stone masonry arch (roadway and sidewalk), and widened to the south in 1928 with three steel stringers supporting corrugated decking (sidewalk). The 2023 (21st cycle) Bridge Re-evaluation Survey Report identified a number of safety concerns for the bridge. The bridge is in overall poor condition, with a sufficiency rating of 49.3 out of 100. The superstructure is in poor condition, with a rating of 4, on a scale of 1 to 9. The substructure is in fair condition, with a rating of 5, on a scale of 1 to 9. The structure is classified as Structurally Deficient due to the superstructure, and Functionally Obsolete due to substandard bridge roadway width.

A Local Concept Development (LCD) study for major rehabilitation or replacement of the bridge was completed in Spring 2020. During this phase, a Purpose and Need Statement was developed, focusing on the need to improve safety and maintain the current crossing over the Whippany River. A number of conceptual alternatives were developed to meet the project goals and objectives. Upon completion of an alternatives analysis, the recommended Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA) to address the structural deficiencies was to replace the bridge with a new structure. Resolutions of support were passed by the Town of Morristown and the Morris County Board of Commissioners.

Local Preliminary Engineering Phase

The project is now in the Local Preliminary Engineering (LPE) phase, which began in Summer 2023. The LPE phase involves performing engineering and environmental tasks and documentation in order to obtain National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) clearance for the project. Based on the PPA, a number of activities are simultaneously underway: design level mapping, engineering studies, environmental documentation, agency consultation, and community involvement. As part of this phase, there will be a community stakeholders meeting and a public information center meeting to share project information and obtain input.

The tasks conducted during the LPE Phase consist of, but are not limited to:

• Technical environmental studies (including Section 106 and Section 4(f) Evaluation)
• NEPA Document (Categorical Exclusion)
• Development of design level base plans
• Utility discovery and verification
• Preliminary drainage design
• Hydraulic and hydrologic studies
• Structural studies that document the structural selection process and the recommended structure and aesthetic treatments
• Access impact evaluation
• Development of property easement cost estimates and project cost estimates

Local Preliminary Engineering Phase – Anticipated Project Schedule (Major Milestones)

Approved Environmental Documentation Summer 2024
Approved Local Preliminary Engineering Report & Completion of LPE Phase Fall 2024

Local Preliminary Engineering Phase – Anticipated Community Involvement Schedule

Local Officials Meeting No. 1 Early 2024
Local Officials Meeting No. 2 Spring 2024
Community Stakeholders Meeting Early 2024
Public Information Center Meeting Spring 2024