Road Improvements in Randolph 

This historic bridge will be disassembled and restored to its original look. Photo courtesy Randolph Township

By Henry M. Holden

Those of us who live in Morris County endure winters plagued with icy roads and sometimes paralyzing snowstorms. As the ice and snow melt, we notice small holes of varying sizes in the roadways.

They are called potholes and they are caused by the expansion and contraction of ground water that melts and enters the ground under the roadway. Consider making ice cubes in your refrigerator. When you put a tray of water into the freezer cccand later remove it, you will notice the water has expanded. This same effect happens when water gets under the roadway. If it has a chance to freeze, it will take up more space under the roadway, and the roadway will expand, and crack, which weakens it. Then, when ice melts, the roadway has gaps or spaces, where water can get trapped. If the water freezes and thaws multiple times over the winter, larger holes will develop. 

At some point, the holes become big enough to damage vehicles, and as you know if you’ve hit one, repairs can be expensive.

What happens when salt is brought into the picture? This creates an artificial freeze-thaw cycle that allows more occurrences of the damaging cycle to occur. This happens more in the spring because of the melting that takes place and because the temperatures fluctuate above and below the freezing point frequently.

This phenomenon costs townships such as Randolph millions of dollars over the years. The 2023 budget in Randolph for road repairs is $1.1 million dollars. 

As part of the ongoing road maintenance program, Randolph township estimates the condition of the road system on an annual basis.

“This evaluation program is a collaborative effort between the engineering and public works department,” said Wayne Corsey, PE, PP, and Engineering, Water & Sewer Administrator. “The program considers the perspectives of both departments and synthesizes the input received into a comprehensive annual evaluation of the townships road systems.”

According to Corsey, “Roadway, maintenance and improvement remain a township priority.”

Each year, township employees set out to repair the pothole damage. However, this year the township discovered a new challenge, a historic bridge in Randolph that needed repairs. 

From June 19, through August 25, the county of Morris is scheduled to repair the Millbrook Avenue bridge structure located 150 feet northwest of the intersection with Pierson’s Hill Road. This will require road closures during construction and traffic detours will be posted.

According to Corsey, “The bridge, was built in 1930, and has an average daily traffic volume of between 4,000 and 7,000 vehicles. Due to the heavy volume, the bridge needed to be repaired, and it was decided to close the bridge when school is not in session.

“The bridge is a historic structure made of stone masonry arch, with retaining walls that run along both sides of Millbrook Avenue, spanning over the Mill Brook. There is deterioration of the masonry arch, and walls that will require reconstruction like improvements made to another stone masonry arch bridge structures, in Morris County.

This program tracks the 154 centerline miles of township roadways, 2,200 drainage, inlets and 150 stormwater outfalls. The 2023 funding has been adjusted to last year’s allowing for increased paving costs. 

Eighteen roads, the equivalent of 5.50 miles, are scheduled for resurfacing. As in past years, if funds are available after the roads scheduled for resurfacing have been completed additional roads could be added prior to the end of the year.

The rehabilitation of the bridge includes the following: reconstructing the stone masonry elements (parapets, retaining walls, footings), strengthening the arch itself through masonry repairs, and the construction of reinforced flowable fill over the arch. 

“Since it is a historic site, we will be protecting the arch from water infiltration by constructing a membrane waterproofing sandwiched between layers of asphalt pavement.” said Corsey. 

Residents who live on these roads and plan to install new underground utility lines, such as gas or water, should schedule the installation before the road is paved.

Construction will require closing Millbrook Avenue at the bridge structure between Fords Road and Pierson Hill Road. The primary detour for all traffic in this area will be via Schoolhouse Road, Center Grove Road, and Route 10. Varying message and detour signs, and other traffic control measures will help drivers during this construction. 

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