ON THE STREET WHERE (WE) LIVE

Map of Summit with bridge in yellow and alternate route in green. The monastery is pictures (tiny) on the left.

With the tragic colapse of the bridge in Minneaoplis, MN this week, bridges are on the minds of many people. Our hearts and prayers go out to the to those who have died, their families and the rescue workers.
Here in Summit, much needed replacement of 2 bridges on Morris and Springfield Avenue has been the talk of the town for years. Now, finally BOTH are slated for replacement and construction beginning next week.
It just so happens that our monastery, which is on the corner (or rather THE corner) of Morris and Springfield, is also smack in the middle of these 2 projects. Much work will probably take place at night but hopefully, with God's grace, we'll get used to it! We've already forgotten the major repair and paving of both avenues, much of which was done at night.
With the rerouting of traffic, the area might even be quieter!
Summit braces for traffic chaos
Springfield Avenue section is detoured for bridge work over 15 months
Thursday, August 02, 2007
BY GABRIEL H. GLUCKStar-Ledger Staff
Driving through downtown Summit may require some additional patience -- possibly more than two year's worth -- as work begins on replacing the first of two century-old railroad bridges.
Starting Monday, a portion of Springfield Avenue, just east of Morris Avenue, will be closed and traffic detoured so that crews can begin demolishing the bridge.
Nearly 9,000 motorists use Springfield Avenue daily. It is not only a major east-west artery through the northern portion of Union County, but also runs right through the heart of the city's central business district.
The state Department of Transportation estimates it will take $4.7 million and 15 months to replace the span, partly because work hours must be restricted to accommodate the trains on NJ Transit's Morristown line, which run underneath the span.
Merchants are a bit apprehensive, said Walter Long, owner of a downtown travel agency and the executive director of the Summit Chamber of Commerce.
"Whenever you disrupt anything, there is concern," Long said. "But we are sending out a message in every way, shape and form that Summit is open. We're really going to do whatever it takes ... to encourage people to still come to Summit."
Long said that while shoppers may find the situation aggravating, merchants are hoping that "customer loyalty" will help them survive the project.
"What could be more disruptive than tearing up the whole downtown ... and (businesses) made it through that," Long said, referring to the streetscape project several years ago.
"But this is a time when we really have to advertise our downtown -- and show people how to get into our downtown," he said.
While Springfield Avenue will be closed on the western end of the central business district, there are still a half-dozen other entry ways, Long said.
The bridge that is being replaced was built in 1905 when the railroad tracks were lowered through the city.
The new bridge will be two feet wider than the existing span, with an additional foot added to the sidewalks on either side of the span, according to DOT spokeswoman Erin Phalon.
The bridge, which normally sees 8,743 vehicles per day, is not expected to reopen until November 2008, Phalon said.
City Administrator Christopher Cotter said local officials are preparing for two major crunch times, next week when the bridge is closed, and after Labor Day, when school starts and many residents return to work after vacation.
"We're working with Summit Downtown so that the detour plans will accommodate the merchants and shops as much as we can," Cotter said.
The Morris Avenue bridge, just north of the Springfield Avenue intersection, will likely be the next span to be replaced. The replacement span is currently in the design stage, he said.
"The thinking is, to start Morris when this one is done," Cotter said. "But the bridge presents many challenges."
Gabriel H. Gluck may be reached at (908) 302-1506 or ggluck@starledger.com.