Though many might not be aware – or perhaps found out through near accidents when trying to turn – the Mishawaum Extension Bridge across Rutherford Avenue has officially closes to vehicles.
Though there is no signage announcing the fact, jersey barriers have been placed across the small turning lane that is very popular with local drivers trying to avoid the tangled web of Sullivan Square by making a U-turn or cutting across from Main Street/Medford Street. For local drivers accustomed to traffic snarls, it is a valuable piece of navigational real estate that is sorely missed.
The Mayor’s Office said the bridge was closed off suddenly on July 30 when problems were found with the structure of the bridge. The extension bridge is adjacent to a piece of the overpass that was demolished nearly 13 years ago because it was structurally unsound.
“During a routine inspection of the Mishawaum Street bridge, the Public Works Department discovered some deficiencies that needed to be addressed,” said Bonnie McGilpin of the Mayor’s Office. “Due to public safety concerns, the bridge was immediately closed to traffic. A bridge consultant is currently evaluating the bridge, and once that is complete and the bridge is safe to travel, the barricades will be removed and the bridge will re-open to traffic.”
She said that while there is not signage right now announcing the closure, crews planned to put up signage soon.
State Rep. Dan Ryan said the situation is a symptom of a larger problem. He said it is the product of decades of neglect on that overall corridor.
“For me, this is just a symptom of a much greater problem on that corridor,” he said. “It’s been neglected for 50 years…I have to wonder that if the overpass adjacent to the bridge was structurally deficient 13 years ago and had to be taken down, then why wouldn’t the Mishawaum bridge also be structurally deficient then? It doesn’t take a structural engineer to look at that situation and figure it out.”
Mishawaum Street, the Mishawaum Street Extension and bridge and D Street have much bigger plans – though the recent closure is not part of that plan. The eventual plan, which is part of the Hood project and Graphic Arts Building project, would look to connect D Street, Mishawaum Extension/Bridge and Mishawaum Street into one continuous corridor. That corridor would be signalized for traffic flow and would help drivers access those two projects.