Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the bridge need replacement?

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 bridge is currently functionally obsolete due to substandard deck width. Age, deterioration, and increased traffic volume are some of the reasons why this bridge is in need of or replacement.

What is the existing condition of the bridge?

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. The bridge is presently safe to travel on and with ongoing structural maintenance required from the NJDOT bi-annual bridge inspection will continue to be functional until the bridge replacement.

What is the Local Preliminary Engineering Phase?

Local Preliminary Engineering Phase
The current phase of this project is Local Preliminary Engineering (LPE). 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 Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA), a number of activities are simultaneously set in motion: community involvement (meetings with affected property owners or business owners), agency consultation, environmental documentation, design level mapping and design services. To inform and to encourage community consensus, community stakeholder and public information center meetings will be conducted.

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
• Geotechnical studies (soil boring and analysis) for foundation and pavement design
• Preliminary drainage work
• Structural studies that document the structural selection process and the recommended structure and aesthetic treatments
• Access impact evaluation
• Development of property acquisition cost estimates and project cost estimates

What is the Project Schedule for the Local Preliminary Engineering (LPE) Phase? 

Approved Environmental Documentation

Summer 2024

Approved Local Preliminary Engineering Report & Completion of LPE Phase

Fall 2024

LPE Phase – Anticipated Community Involvement Schedule

Local Officials Meeting No. 1

Local Officials Meeting No. 2

Early 2024

Spring 2024

Community Stakeholders Meeting

Early 2024

Public Information Center Meeting

Spring 2024

What is an LCD Study?

A Local Concept Development (LCD) Study is the first phase of the Local Project Delivery Process for transportation improvements. During this phase, a Purpose and Need Statement will be developed focusing on the need to address structural and operational deficiencies of the bridge. The LCD Phase also includes data collection, coordination with local municipal officials, community stakeholders, and Federal and State permitting agencies; the development of a reasonable number of sensible and practical conceptual alternatives; and the recommendation.

What kind of a bridge is the existing Martin Luther Avenue Bridge?

The existing Martin Luther King Avenue Bridge is a three-span bridge, as follows:

  • Bridge spans the Whippany River in the Town of Morristown
  • Year Built: Originally constructed in 1900, widened in 1928.
  • Bridge type: three-span, closed spandrel stone arch (roadway) widened with a stone masonry arch (roadway and west sidewalk) and multiple steel stringers with corrugated decking.
    • Overall length: 66 feet.
    • Bridge roadway width: 30.5 feet.
How will the project benefit pedestrians and bicyclists?

As part of the LCD Study, the project team asked for input from the local officials and community stakeholders to understand what pedestrian and bicycle mobility and access is needed. As part of the LCD Study phase, when developing the project Purpose and Need for improvements, all modes of transportation were taken into consideration regarding the proposed bridge improvements, including: pedestrians, cyclists, transit, vehicular, and marine uses.  The PPA recommends sidewalks and shoulders on both sides of the bridge to enhance pedestrian and bicycle access and safety.

Have the project’s improvements been decided?

Yes, the recommended Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA) developed during the LCD Study is for a complete bridge replacement. Please see the map and written description for the bridge replacement improvements located on the Project Maps and Documents and Maps page under Resources on the main menu or click here.

How much will it cost and who will pay for it?

The cost of implementing the Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA) was estimated as part of the Local Concept Development (LCD) Study using federal dollars.  The LPE Phase and future phases will qualify to be funded with federal dollars provided the design and construction plans meet the Federal requirements.

How will the project affect the environment?

As part of the Local Concept Development (LCD) Study, an environmental screening was performed. The environmental screening identified the issues, concerns, and potential impacts related to the social, economic, and environmental resources. The screening includes a review of the potential impacts to air/noise receptors, ecological constraints, cultural resources, publicly owned parks and recreation areas, wildlife or waterfowl refuges, hazardous materials (known contaminated sites), socioeconomics, and environmental justice.

At this stage in the project, the environmental screening has been prepared and reviewed by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Bureau of Environmental Program Resources (BEPR). The Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA) as it is advances in the LPE phase will have further environmental and cultural resource studies conducted in accordance with State and Federal permitting agencies.

Why get involved?

The project team is very interested in knowing how the local community uses the bridge, any current approach roadway concerns, and welcomes input regarding the proposed bridge replacement improvements. Community Outreach during the LCD Study was an important part of the transportation improvement process and public outreach will continue during the LPE phase and future phases of the project.

Why attend the public meetings?

Attendance at public meetings is the best way to stay informed and to ensure a successful project that meets the community’s needs and interests. By attending the meetings, you can provide input and discuss any questions you may have with the project team members.

If you are unable to attend meetings, the project website will post meeting summary reports and presentation slides as well as other project information. If you have any questions, you may contact the County and the Project Team directly by using the Online General Comment Form or by submitting comments via the project email address:  mlkbridgeproject@gmail.com

How can I stay informed or offer suggestions?

Morris County and the cooperating agencies of NJDOT and NJTPA encourage transportation improvements that best balance transportation needs, the environment, community interests and cost. As part of the Community Outreach effort, there will be outreach meetings held to share project information and obtain input.


  • Check this Website regularly for updated information
  • Attend the Community Stakeholders Meeting and the Public Information Center Meeting
  • Complete the General Comment Form here
What if I have other questions or concerns about the project?

Morris County and the cooperating agencies of NJDOT and NJTPA, encourages community members to voice their concerns and contribute suggestions to the Project Team. To ask questions or provide input, please use the General Comment Form (here) or contact:

Contact Information
Danielle Malavarca, P.E.
Senior Engineer – Bridges and County Project Manager
County of Morris
Department of Public Works
Division of Engineering & Transportation
P.O. Box 900
Morristown, NJ 07963-0900
Email: mlkbridgeproject@gmail.com
Telephone: 973-829-8622