Wherever a river bisects populated areas, adequate transportation between both banks is critical. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Christie administration’s failure to alleviate the congestion across the Hudson River into Manhattan. But Burlington County has its own, albeit smaller, crisis where the Rancocas Creek cuts across the county.
The Centerton Bridge, which was built in 1903, carried 14,000 vehicles per day across the river between Willingboro and Mount Laurel. Earlier this year, the bridge was abruptly closed when it was determined to be unsafe for vehicular traffic. Even before the closure, the bridge was inadequate, with one narrow lane in each direction making navigating through opposing traffic a test of driving skills.
Despite undergoing $6 million in repairs several years ago, the only viable alternative is to totally replace the bridge according to a report from the county engineer. The GOP-controlled Freeholder Board has made the tentative decision to simply allow the bridge to close and not replace it. They claim the stretch of I-295 that crosses the river a few miles down the road is adequate for the increased traffic.
As you will hear in the video (below the fold), a group of concerned citizens have criticized that decision. Many drivers are reluctant to drive on the high-speed interstate and negotiate the tricky exits and lane crossings designated as the detour for the Centerton Bridge.
This crumbling bridge is not the only one in New Jersey that needs attention. But there’s more to this. The community of Willingboro is heavily Democratic and has a large African-American population. The freeholders or governor can garner very few Republican votes by providing Willingboro residents with easy access to the numerous destinations across the creek in Mount Laurel and Moorestown.