It looks as though South Brunswick residents will be without the use of the Friendship Road bridge until the spring of 2012, as the repairs to the damaged roadway by Middlesex County appear unlikely to begin this year. The small bridge suffered significant damage during Hurricane Irene and has been impassable due to a gaping hole ever since.
"The county was supposed to go out to bid at the end of last week," Mayor Frank Gambatese said on Friday. "As far as I know they wanted to get started as soon as possible. They want to get everything done so they can start the work in the spring, so unfortunately it doesn't look like they'll get started on it this year. It's going to be too late to get it done before the end of the year with the asphalt companies shutting down for the season."
, Councilman John O'Sullivan said the bridge had been under repair for two years and a metal plate was installed as a temporary measure, until the appropriate permits could be obtained from the Department of Environmental Protection for the repairs.
“I had an informative discussion with a county bridge inspector," O'Sullivan said after the storm. "However, I would like to know when the County and the State will coordinate their efforts, get the appropriated permits, and repair the bridge. At best the closed bridge is an inconvenience and at worst a safety hazard. After two years, it’s time to fix the bridge."
Though residents will be faced with an ongoing inconvenience until the closed bridge is repaired, Gambatese said on the positive side Middlesex County is expected to perform extensive work on the roadway to avoid any future storm-related problems.
"It's going to be completely redesigned by the county, they're going to redo the bridge and repave the road," Gambatese said. "We need to get this done because it's the main road going into Plainsboro. I believe whatever work they do will really improve the road instead of just fixing this one issue."