Council authorizes $20K High Crest Lake Bridge replacement work

West Milford. Some $20,000 in engineering work will begin on replacing the High Crest Lake Bridge and Dam following a unanimous vote of the Township Council Jan. 15. The work will estimate how much replacing the bridge and fixing the dam will likely cost.

| 17 Jan 2020 | 01:15

The Township Council awarded a professional services contract for evaluation and determination of the constriction cost to replace a “high hazard” bridge in the High Crest Lake community Jan. 15.

State officials determined over a decade ago that the bridge, built in 1950, is failing and must be replaced.

There are 280 properties at High Crest Lake, 86 of them on the lake.

A resolution unanimously passed by the council, authorized the mayor and acting municipal clerk to execute a contract with GZA Geoenvironmental Inc., 55 Lane Road in Fairfield, at a cost not to exceed $20,000.

The firm will make an evaluation of the project to determine construction costs.

The bridge spans the outfall structure of the High Crest Lake dam.

Due to the proximity of the structure to the spillway of the dam, action to replace the bridge has been pending New Jersey Department of Environmental approval of the rehabilitation of the dam by the High Crest Lake Association in October 2018.

Since the two projects (dam and bridge replacement) connect at key points, it is deemed advantageous to have them designed jointly, local officials said.

A proposal was requested and received from the association’s engineering firm to provide a preliminary evaluation and construction cost determination for bridge replacement.

Structural analysis reports from engineers contracted in 2006, 2010, and 2017 reaffirmed that replacement of the bridge is necessary.

In October 2016, Charles Adams, president of Civil Dynamics, a firm providing professional services in civil and environmental engineering to private and government sectors, addressed the council at the time.

He said the NJDEP Dam Hazard Division listed the dam as high hazard – meaning if the dam failed there would be a probability of loss of life.

A loan to fund repairs was approved under a bill signed by Gov. Chris Christie in November 2014.

This was a bi-partisan measure appropriating $22.5 million from existing money in the Dam, Stream Project Fund.

High Crest Lake would receive approximately $575,000 in loan funds and Henion Pond would get a $1.65 million loan, in accord with the appropriation.

In 2017, the township endorsed submitting these two loan applications.

At the time, former Mayor Bettina Bieri said co-signing by the township in no way obligated the township to pay the bill.

The money is loaned to High Crest Lake Association and payment of the debt is their responsibility.