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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why is this work necessary?

Due to the deteriorated condition of the bridge superstructure over the Passaic River, the bridge requires frequent repairs. Because of this, the bridge over the Passaic River requires replacement. The bridge was originally designed for two traffic lanes in each direction and 1940's vehicle loads. As traffic volumes increased, the shoulder lanes on the bridge were eliminated to add an extra through lane while providing ramp access from Route 21 and Riverside Avenue. This ramp access is now inadequate.

Heavy traffic volume during peak periods combined with the inadequate or nonexistent acceleration and deceleration lanes and shoulders causes variable speeds and sudden stops contributing to driver uncertainty. Accident analysis and field observations indicate a major problem for vehicles at all the ramp locations within the study area. Additional ramp acceleration/deceleration lanes are required.

Q. What is the schedule?

The project schedule is:

Topographic Survey Summer 2001
Community outreach Ongoing since Summer 2001
Finalize the Final Scope Development Package Spring 2003
Begin Preliminary Design Phase Spring 2004
End Preliminary Design Phase Spring 2005
Begin Final Design Phase Spring 2007
Acquire Kingsland Avenue properties Spring 2007
Award Kingsland Avenue Demolition Contract Winter 2008
Award Park Avenue Bridge over Route 3 Contract Summer 2008
Substantial completion of Park Avenue Bridge over Route 3 construction Spring 2010
Award Route 3 over the Passaic River Contract Summer 2010
Q. What part of Route 3 will be affected?
A. The affected area of Route 3 is from Main Avenue in Clifton to the Route 17 interchange in Lyndhurst and Rutherford located in Passaic and Bergen counties.
Q. Does the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) plan to widen Route 3?
A. There are no additional through lanes within the project limits. However, the project as it is currently proposed provides safety improvements, including new shoulders, auxiliary lanes and acceleration/deceleration lanes, as well as re-configured exit ramps. This work will be completed within the existing Right of Way of the current roadway. The proposed replacement of the Route 3 Bridge over the Passaic River will be wider than the current structure to accommodate separated acceleration/deceleration lanes. The project is intended to improve safety and help traffic move smoothly along Route 3, and is not expected to add volume to the roadway.
Q. How was the project's design finalized?
The final design was modified to prevent or mitigate any negative impacts of the project. Community input played a key role in this process. The NJDOT Project Team provided a comprehensive outreach program so that impacts were addressed in partnership with local communities. The program addressed the appearance of the noise barriers in conformance with the Resolution of Support.
Q. Why was the project smart sized?
The project in its Preliminary Design Phase was deemed very expensive. Due to funding issues, NJDOT made major design changes to smart size this and several other large projects. The project was split into smaller components to distribute costs over a longer time period and receive more competitive bidding. The "smart sizing" of the project as originally approved in the Preliminary Design Phase has resulted in a cost savings of approximately $60 million.
Q. How can I comment on this project?
NJDOT encourages community members to submit comments to:

Deborah Hirt, Regional Manager
Office of Community Relations
New Jersey Department of Transportation
1035 Parkway Avenue
Trenton, NJ 08625
Phone: 609.530.2110
Q. When will construction begin and when will it be completed?
Construction will begin in 2010 and be completed in stages in order to minimize construction impacts on the community and expedite construction.
Q. How much will it cost and who will pay for it?
The estimated cost of this project is under $200 million. Federal funds are being used for this project.
Q. Will Route 3 be closed during construction?
No. Three (3) lanes of traffic will be maintained on Route 3 in each direction during the peak traffic periods (AM and PM rush hours) throughout the construction process.
Q. How will motorists be notified when work on certain parts of Route 3 affect their daily commute?
Permanent Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) have been installed on the eastbound side of Route 3 near Route 7 and the westbound side by Meadowlands Parkway, which will notify motorists of delays and/or construction impacts. These will be supplemented by mobile signage to alert local motorists of construction. In addition, NJDOT will use radio, traffic reports and its 511NJ Travel Information web site to alert motorists.
Q. What will the area look like when the work is completed?
The map shows the proposed improvements.
Q. What are the environmental elements?

Environmental issues that have influenced the design include wetlands, noise and air quality, possible hazardous materials in adjacent land or water, archaeology, historic buildings or structures and socioeconomic considerations.

  • Socioeconomics, land use and environmental justice impacts were investigated for the two industrial, one commercial and 15 residential properties impacted.
  • Air and noise studies concentrate on sensitive receptors, such as residential properties in Rutherford and Lyndhurst, where noise levels need to be addressed.
  • Feasibility studies and public meetings have resulted in a Resolution of Support for noise barriers with architectural enhancement along Rutherford Avenue and Marginal Road, Thomas E. Dunn Highway, and Route 3 in Clifton.
  • The archeologist/architectural historian conducted background research to establish eligible cultural resources, architectural resources, and recreational land in the project area.
  • The ecological study evaluated existing ecosystems and assessed potential impacts. Several wetland, surface and groundwater studies have recently been conducted in the area. The existing information was used to assess the potential impacts of contamination of natural resources prior to the project start.
  • A hazardous waste screening study was conducted to assess potential impacts associated with the acquisition of the Classic Sanitation property. Additionally, potential impacts, due to the proximity of numerous other known contaminated sites and possible leaking Underground Storage Tanks (UST) sites, as well as the NJ TRANSIT rail line were assessed.
  • Of particular concern for the project is the quality of the Passaic River sediments and the dewatering effluent that may have to be managed during construction. A Waterfront Development Permit was obtained for the tidal Passaic River.
  • A very comprehensive public involvement program has been developed and implemented to provide the opportunity for input from the three affected communities located along this section of the roadway.

Copies of the Environmental Assessment were distributed to the public, various agencies and municipalities, and are available at local libraries.

Q. Were utilities and geotechnical elements considered?
All underground and aerial utilities were identified. Utility base plans were prepared. Both geotechnical and pavement assessments were performed. Subsurface information was gathered.
Q. Will there be increased noise or pollution to the area during construction?
The contract documents require the construction contractor to conform to all federal and state laws and regulations. This includes environmental regulations. Further mitigation measures are required for construction equipment, because of nearby residences; during the Final Design phase Contract Documents were developed which include these mitigation measures.
Q. Will they be working at night?
Construction hours will be specified to minimize disruption to the local community. However, some night work that conforms to local ordinances may be required to minimize disruption to daily traffic and optimize the construction schedule.
Q. How will local air quality be affected by the proposed improvements?
Since the focus of the Route 3 improvements is on safety and improved access, traffic flow will be improved. Because traffic flow will improve and the occurrences of vehicles idling in congested traffic will be reduced the overall effect should be a decrease in air pollution.
Q. Are noise walls or other sound barriers part of the plan?
Noise studies performed during Final Scope Development determined existing conditions and the effects of proposed construction to identify where noise mitigation is warranted. During the Preliminary phase of the project, mitigation measures such as architectural enhancement screens, landscaping, etc. were discussed with local officials and residents and presented at October 2004 - Public Information Centers. Each of the three communities (Rutherford, Clifton and Lyndhurst) adopted resolutions in support of the installation of noise barriers. Heights of the noise barriers were finalized using the new profile information.
Q. Will any businesses or residences need to be acquired or relocated in order to complete the proposed improvements?
Based upon the current "smart sized" projects, two properties in Rutherford lie within the proposed project footprint (one is a vacant lot). There are also 13 residences and five industrial properties in Clifton which were acquired. The only Rutherford residence affected will not require acquisition since the Right of Way impact is minor. NJDOT has contacted all affected property owners when the Right of Way acquisition process began. No properties in Lyndhurst are affected.
Q. How does the reconstruction of the Routes 3 and 46 Interchange affect this project?
The reconstruction at the Routes 46 and 3 interchange is a separate NJDOT project that includes rehabilitation of Route 3 from the Grove Street interchange in Clifton to the Route 46 interchange with Notch and Rifle Camp Roads in Little Falls. The Routes 46 and 3 interchange project is presently in the Design Phase and that work should have no impact on this project.
Q. Is this project related to any pending development projects in the Meadowlands area?
No. The need for this project has come about over a period of four decades due to steady growth in traffic volumes and the construction of interconnecting state roads including Route 21. The Concept Development phase of this project began in 1992.
Q. How will the proposed improvements affect traffic patterns on local streets?
Traffic engineering investigations were performed to determine the impact of the proposed project on local traffic patterns especially in residential areas. Modifications to the initial design and other strategies were developed with input from the communities to minimize any potential negative impacts.
Q. How is emergency access being addressed throughout the Route 3 project area?
The safety and security of highway users is a paramount goal of NJDOT. This project is based on the need to improve safety conditions. Emergency access will be enhanced throughout much of the project corridor.
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  Department of Transportation
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  Trenton, NJ 08625-0600
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  Last Updated:  June 9, 2015