County To Repair South Front Street Bridge

ELIZABETH – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders announced that $330,000 in state funding has been obtained to repair the historic South Front Street Bridge in Elizabeth.  The work is needed to replace and reinforce the bridge deck.

State funding of $462,000 has also been obtained to replace the railroad bridge over the East Branch of Westbrook in Roselle, as part of a long term flood control project.

“I am very pleased that the County of Union is able to advance the flood control project and preserve a significant historic structure while providing relief to county taxpayers,” said Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada.  “These projects are important for our region and for the State of New Jersey.”

The South Front Street Bridge is the only road-bearing moveable bridge still operating in Union County.  It is eligible for the State and National Registers of Historic Places. 

Constructed in 1920, the South Front Street Bridge is a 158-foot steel span across the Elizabeth River, near Arthur Kill.  It was designed by the Strauss Bascule Bridge Company of Chicago.  J.B. Strauss, who founded the company, was the most respected moveable bridge engineer of his time.

One historically and technologically significant aspect of the design is the patented structure that lifts the bridge.  Called a heel trunnion, this structure pivots on a fixed point at one end.

The heel trunnion was a great improvement in moveable bridge design.  It took up less space than the conventional “see-saw” design in wide use at the time.  It also reduced the amount of material required in construction.

The design of this bridge includes a concrete counterweight enclosed in distinctive steel latticework.  The counterweight reduces energy consumption by using gravity to do much of the work involved in raising and lowering the bridge.  Small motors make up the balance.

The South Front Street Bridge is the last remaining road-carrying heel trunnion bridge in all of New Jersey.

The work on the South Front Street Bridge will consist of replacing and reinforcing the unpaved steel grid that forms the bridge deck.

The work in Roselle will consist of replacing and enlarging the culvert that carries the former Staten Island Railroad line across the East Branch of Westbrook.  The new culvert will enable a greater amount of water to pass through during heavy rains, helping to alleviate upstream flooding. 

Funding both projects was obtained from the New Jersey Department of Transportation.  Work is expected to begin within the next year.

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