Harry's Brook Bridge Repair is Complete, But Township Expresses Dissatisfaction
A recently-completed, $2 million New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) project to repair Harry's Brook Bridge on Princeton-Kingston Road in the Township has calmed the nerves of drivers and Lake Carnegie-area residents, but has raised the eyebrows of several Township officials who are questioning the bridge's aesthetic integrity.
"Basically, we're not particularly happy with what has been done," said Tom White, vice chairperson of the Township's Historic Preservation Commission, at a July 12 meeting that sought to bridge a gap between Township officials, DOT, and various contract representatives.
The Township's primary grievance concerns the stone work that was put in place after the base structure of the bridge was completed. The original bridge, which was constructed around 1905, was designed with stonework composed of stones of different sizes, shapes, and types. Preliminary discussions between DOT and the Township outlined a plan that would essentially "recreate" the original bridge while putting in place modern day safety standards such as "Jersey barriers" that keep a vehicle from driving over the side rails.
"DOT has put up a safe, durable structure," Mr. White said, but he added that he has received public comment regarding the final product.
Mr. White referred to at least two calls from residents voicing concern over the bridge's aesthetics. When driving across it, one can see the white partitions that fulfill the DOT's safety standards. These partitions, Mr. White said, were supposed to have been faced with stonework like that on the outside of the bridge.
"We as a commission were looking for a finish that was compatible with the original structure and DOT was willing to put up the extra cash for that," Mr. White said, but added that the finished product resulted in "travel lanes [that] are essentially what you see on Route 1."
Mr. White pointed out that while the Historic Commission can object to the outcome, it is up to DOT to deliver final compliance with the Township's standards; he conceded that there was little the Township could do if DOT resisted.
DOT representatives could not be reached for comment at press time.
The efforts with Harry's Brook Bridge have not
been in vain on the Township's end, Mr. White added. In fact,
he said he hopes it will enhance communications between the
municipality and the state on future projects. The next bridge
project where DOT and the Historic Commission will be working
together is the Stony Brook Bridge on Quaker Road. A start time
for that project has yet to be set.