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Division of Land Use Regulation
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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Bridges

  • Overview
  • Freshwater Wetlands
  • Flood Hazard
  • Coastal
  • Tidelands

Bridges constructed for the purpose of extending roads over otherwise impassible rivers and streams, have been constructed in NJ since the colonial days. There are thousands of bridges in NJ, both large and small, with new ones under construction and older ones under repair.

Activities, including the construction or reconstruction of a bridge, may disturb special areas of the State that are regulated by the Department, may require an approval from the Division prior to construction. An area containing sensitive and endangered plant species for example, may be irreparably damaged by such activities. It is important therefore to closely examine a proposed project relative to the sensitive areas which may be impacted.

Construction or reconstruction of a bridge may require multiple approvals from the Division, depending on the special areas impacted by the project. If you don't know what special areas are on your site, please check out the before you buy, before you build section of this website for guidance on determining if your site has one of these regulated special areas on it.

For information on Land Use permit requirements for construction or reconstruction of a bridge within specific "special areas", please click on each of the tabs above.*

*For impacts to Streams, Rivers, Lakes, Ponds, Flood Plains, Flood Way, Riparian Zones and other water body related areas, please click on the "Flood Hazard" tab. For impacts to special coastal areas, please click on the "Coastal" tab. For impacts to Freshwater Wetlands, click on the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab. Information on Tidelands can be found in the "Tidelands" tab.

The construction of a bridge within freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters requires a Freshwater Wetlands (FWW) permit. Two FWW General Permits (GPs) are available for this activity, a GP10A and a GP10B.

General Permit 10A -- Very minor road crossings is for bridges that comply with one of the two scenarios listed below:

  1. The "Short Crossing Scenario" requires that the disturbance of freshwater wetlands and/or State open waters is no longer than 100 feet for each crossing and the total cumulative disturbance of freshwater wetlands, transition area, and State open waters is one quarter acre or less.
  2. The "Long Crossing Scenario" has no crossing length requirement, but instead requires that the total cumulative disturbance of freshwater wetlands, transition area, and State open waters is one eighth acre or less.

General Permit 10B -- Minor road crossings is for bridges that exceed the GP10A requirements, but which have less than one quarter acre of disturbance to freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters.

If the bridge cannot comply with the criteria for a GP10A or a GP10B, the applicant would need to apply for an (Individual Permit (IP)). An IP application would need to include a description as to why the project cannot be minimized to satisfy the General Permit criteria described in the links above.

There are no Permit by Rules (PBR’s) associated with bridges.  However, there are two potential qualifying general permits for bridges.  General Permit No. 2C allows for the crossing of water for agricultural purposes.  General Permit No. 9 allows for the crossing of water that drains less than 50 acres.  All other bridges must apply for a Flood Hazard Area Individual Permit.

The construction, replacement, repair, and/or maintenance of bridges in the coastal zone generally requires a permit. There are no coastal permits-by-rule or coastal general permits to facilitate the construction, replacement, repair, and/or maintenance of a bridge. However, the redecking and replacement of bridge surfaces within Waterfront Development jurisdiction provided there is no change in length, width, or height is an exempt activity pursuant to N.J.A.C 7:7-2.3(d)8.  

Please refer to the “Jurisdiction” section of the "Coastal Permitting" section of the website to determine which areas regulated under the Coastal Permit Program Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7-1.1 et seq.) and the Coastal Zone Management Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7E-1.1 et seq.) occur on your site. The availability of certain permits for a project depends on where your project is proposed.

If the proposed project does not meet the requirements for the above specified exemption, the project will generally require a Waterfront Development, CAFRA, and/or a Coastal Wetlands Individual Permit. Additional information regarding the Division’s coastal program can be found on the “Coastal Permitting” section of this website. If necessary, please contact the Division’s Technical Support Center for further assistance.

Tidelands, also known as riparian lands, are all those lands now or formerly flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway; that is to say any land that is currently or was previously covered by tidal waters.  The State of New Jersey, and therefore the people of New Jersey, owns all Tidelands except for those to which it has already sold its interest in the form of a riparian grant.  It is important to note that the State generally does not own artificial waterways such as lagoons however, the State does claim those lands within a lagoon that were flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway which existed prior to the creation of the lagoon.

The construction of a new bridge or the reconstruction/expansion of an existing bridge that is proposed in a tidelands area may require a tidelands license if the activities are taking place at or below the mean high water line of a tidal waterway and/or a tidelands grant if the activities are taking place in an area that is currently landward of the mean high water line but was, at some point, flowed by the tide.

A tidelands license is a short term revocable rental document to use tidelands generally for structures such as docks, bulkhead extensions, mooring piles, and other temporary structures as well as for dredging projects. Licenses are project specific and expire after a finite term ranging from one to ten years. Most licenses may be renewed.

A riparian grant, or tidelands grant, is a deed from the State of New Jersey selling its tidelands. Tidelands grants are generally only issued for lands that have already been filled in and are no longer flowed by the tide.

For more information on tidelands instruments, please see the tidelands section of this website.

For information and instruction on how to determine whether you are in an area that may require either a license or a grant, or for information how to apply for Tideland instruments please see the "Before you Build, Before you Buy" webpage.

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Last Updated: January 9, 2014