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FRANKLIN, NJ—A pedestrian bridge planned for users of the towpath along the Delaware & Raritan Canal would provide access to the towpath near the intersection with DeMott.
The historic Landing Lane Bridge, which crosses the Raritan into Piscataway’s Johnson Park, is where the towpath begins. Currently, that is the only access point on an a nearly eight-mile stretch of the towpath beginning in New Brunswick.
The next access point is all the way in Bound Brook. A bridge that had historically been located near the site of the proposed bridge washed away two years ago, due to flooding following Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
Both the river and canal are notable for their frequent flooding. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd nearly destroyed the downtown section of Bound Brook when floodwaters overwhelmed the borough.
The Demott Lane Bridge, located between Rutgers Preparatory School and the historic Van Wickle House off of Easton Avenue, was washed out in August 2011. Those who haven’t used the towpath recently wouldn’t know this fact until they were two miles into the path.
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced a replacement project in June 2012, but as of today the remnants of the old bridge remain. The abutments left over were inspected by the DEP and determined to be in suitable condition for re-use in the new bridge.
According to spokesman Larry Ragonese, the DEP has received almost all the necessary regulatory approvals for the construction of the new bridge. They anticipate the project will go to bid this fall, with construction beginning early next year, meaning towpath users may have another bridge by this time next year.
Ragonese stated that the new bridge, which will be steel with a wooden deck, will costs the state approximately $75,000.
The towpath follows the river and the Delaware and Raritan Canal. This canal itself was completed in 1834 as a waterway for transporting freight between Philadelphia and New York.
Beginning in New Brunswick’s Boyd Park, the main canal extends 44 miles, passing through Princeton and ending at Bordentown, where it connects to the Delaware River. Although the canal ceased operations in 1932, it is still used today as a water supply system that serves New Brunswick.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.