Why is this bridge study necessary?

Constructed in 1908, the Central Avenue Bridge is over 100 years old and has structural and functional limitations that don't meet today's design standards.  Due to its age, the bridge has deteriorated over time and routine maintenance can no longer address the deficiencies.

Age, deterioration, and increased traffic volume and loads (weight of vehicles) are some of the reasons why this bridge no longer operates well and is in need of replacement. The bridge study was necessary to obtain federal funding to provide the bridge improvements. The City of Newark could not afford to make such improvements without the federal funds that will also be used to implement the design and construction of the Central Avenue bridge replacement over the city subway.

What is the existing condition of the bridge?

The bridge was built in 1908 and is beyond its serviceable life at over 100 years old.  It is in poor physical condition and serious overall condition due to its low inventory ratings (low carrying capacity). This bridge over the city subway requires a routine inspection every two years with an interim inspection every twelve months due to the low inventory rating and the condition of the superstructure.

The bridge is currently safe to travel on, however without significant on-going structural maintenance, the bridge could require more restrictive load posting (further restrictions on the type and weight of vehicles allowed to use the bridge) due to its advancing deterioration.  The structure is currently load posted for 10 tons. Further deterioration of the structure may require a lower load posting. The deck is in fair condition (5 out of 10) due to several spalls on the underside of the deck with exposed reinforcing bars. The superstructure is in poor condition (4 out of 10) due to holes in several truss members, floorbeams and girders.  There are cracks with differential settlement up to 1” on the approach sidewalks.

What is the Local Preliminary Engineering Phase?

Local Preliminary Engineering Phase

The current phase of this project is the Local Preliminary Engineering (LPE) Phase.  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? 

The anticipated Project Schedule (major milestones) for the LPE Phase is as follows:

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

The anticipated Community Involvement Schedule of meetings is as follows:

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 is 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 of a Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA).

What kind of a bridge is the existing Central Avenue Bridge?

The existing Central Avenue Bridge is a four span truss structure, as follows:

  • Bridge spans over the Newark City Subway within the City of Newark.
  • Year Built: 1908.
  • Bridge type: four span, Riveted Steel Pony Truss with Steel Riveted Floor beams, Girders, and Concrete Encased Stringers.
  • Overall length: 118 feet.
  • Bridge roadway width: 47 feet.
  • Bridge vertical clearance over railroad: 15 feet.
  • Bridge total width: 78 feet.

What is the existing condition of the bridge?

The engineering analysis findings to date have revealed the following:

  • Bridge is structurally deficient (poor condition), functionally obsolete (substandard geometry), and nearing the end of its service life.
  • Sufficiency Rating = 32.0 (out of 100).
  • Superstructure is in poor condition: holes in several truss members, floor beams and girders; a substantial material loss to the horizontal angle leg edge and a crack extending from a large hole in the vertical angle leg; several floor beams exhibit moderate to heavy laminar rust to the top and bottom flanges; concrete encasement at the stringers exhibits medium to wide random cracks with water and efflorescence stains throughout.
  • Substructure is in fair condition: missing mortar at several joints in masonry abutments; large spalls with exposed and severely rusted reinforcing steel in concrete pedestals at abutments; several medium to wide random cracks in the abutments, pedestals, & pier columns.
  • Deck is in fair condition: spalls on the underside of deck; numerous small to large spalls; areas of delaminated concrete; fine to medium cracks with efflorescence on the underside; large hole with exposed rebar in Span 1 at the east sidewalk which is covered partially with a steel plate; there is an 8” by 18” uncovered hole adjacent to the steel plate; moderate to heavy scaling on sidewalks; several areas of uneven asphalt and wide to medium random cracks partially sealed.

How will the project benefit pedestrians and bicyclists?

As part of the LCD Bridge Study phase, the project team asked for input from the local officials and community stakeholders to understand what pedestrian and bicycle mobility and access is needed.  The project Purpose and Need for improvements was developed, taking all modes of transportation into consideration regarding the bridge, including pedestrians, cyclists, transit, and vehicular uses.

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 in the Maps sub-section 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 included 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?

Community Outreach during the LCD Study was an important part of the transportation improvement process and determination of the bridge replacement. Public outreach will continue during the LPE phase and future phases of the project. The project team welcomes active participation at outreach meetings and input regarding the proposed bridge replacement improvements.

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 through the Contact Us page or by submitting comments via the project email address: centralavenuebridge@gmail.com

How can I stay informed or offer suggestions?

The City of Newark, Essex 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/or the Public Information Center Meeting
  • Use the Contact Us page to provide your email and/or mailing address

What if I have other questions or concerns about the project?

The City of Newark, Essex 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

Madelyn Artiles
City of Newark Project Manager
City of Newark
Department of Engineering
Division of Traffic and Signals
255 Central Avenue
Newark, NJ 07103