The Alexander Road bridge, originally scheduled to be open by now, will remain closed until at least early December.
The bridge was closed in early July after being delayed two weeks due to a last minute schedule change. Originally, the bridge was scheduled to be closed until September 25, with the entire project wrapping up by November 27.
However, according to NJDOT spokeswoman Erin Phalon, the detour was extended as a result of the relocation of a gas main that took longer than expected.
The $12 million bridge project is about 70 percent complete, says DOT spokesman Tim Greeley. Greeley says officials completed the actual bridge structure and are working on the roadway configuration on the Princeton Junction side. When completed, the bridge will be replaced with a two-lane steel superstructure bridge with 4-foot shoulders and 6-foot sidewalks on both sides.
The existing “T” intersection at North Post and Alexander roads will be replaced with a modern roundabout. New curbs, sidewalks, bicycle-compatible lanes, and landscaping treatments will also be provided. The work is being done by the state’s contractor, IEW.
For business owners located close to the bridge, the further delays will extend the hardship.
Mark Cuomo, owner of Mark’s Trackside Auto Center — which is located on Alexander Road, directly before the bridge — says that the bridge’s closure through the summer was more detrimental to his business than the faltering national economy. He says he had a “great fiscal year,” which ended n June, with the economy having no effect at all on his business.
However, his revenue was down 30 percent in August, and he is anticipating final numbers for September will show business down by 10 to 15 percent. Meanwhile, his fiscal year, which ended in June, before the bridge closed, experienced no slowdowns whatsoever, even though the numbers for June were off 20 percent, he says.
While road signs in both directions approaching the bridge tell motorists that the businesses near the bridge remain open, there is still a reduction in the number of patrons to the businesses, Cuomo says.
“When my customers come in, the feedback I get is, ‘I see the signs, but it looks intimidating, like we shouldn’t go that way.’”
Cuomo says he is performing work for motorists needing emergency repairs but is not getting motorists who pull off the road for routine maintenance.
”I can only come to the conclusion that it’s because of the bridge,” Cuomo says. “The money I’ve lost is going to take me a year to recoup at least.”