The leaves have started turning and the New Jersey Department of Transportation is stepping up efforts to complete a number of bridge projects before temperatures begin to drop below freezing.

The new Route 7 Wittpenn Bridge project is about to be completed, joining Route 7 across the Hackensack River in Jersey City and Kearny.

“This bridge carries a lot of truck traffic and is a very important piece of moving traffic and goods between the port and Newark and Elizabeth and just the general region," DOT spokesman Steve Schapiro said.

He said if there are no delays in the next few days the new bridge will officially open next weekend, replacing a narrower span from 1930.

The new bridge includes a 6-foot sidewalk for pedestrians and bicycles, and it’s 70 feet above the water, twice as high as the current bridge, so the bridge will be opened less frequently for marine traffic, which will mean less disruption to traffic.

“This will be a major benefit to motorists in that congested Jersey City, Kearny area,” Schapiro said.

A $40.8 million project along Route 22 and Route 82 near Garden State Parkway exits 140 to 140B is designed to improve safety and operation.

In South Jersey, the Interstate 295 Direct Connect project is moving along, as work continues on the new temporary Browning Road Bridge.

Schapiro said this “minimizes the impact to the community by having this temporary bridge in place, with traffic in both directions, while we’re building that new bridge.”

Schapiro said traffic is expected to be shifted onto the new bridge later this fall, for about 18 months, until the permanent new span is completed.

A $20.8 million bridge replacement on Interstate 80 over the Rockaway River in Morris County should be completed in the next few weeks, and the existing guide rail is also being brought up to current standards.

In Monmouth County, the Route 34 bridge over the Edgar Felix Bikeway in Wall is being improved.

“The bridge initially had just 10-foot lanes and 2-foot shoulders, so we widened that bridge, the new bridge will have 12-foot lanes in each direction and 10-foot-wide shoulders,” he said.

He said a new culvert is also being constructed below the bridge to accommodate the bike path.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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