Route 23 bridge reconstruction to start next summer

WEST MILFORD. Will a commuter nightmare greet travelers in 2023?

| 31 Aug 2022 | 12:02

The long-expected start of reconstruction of the Route 23 bridge in the High Crest/Smith Mills area is scheduled by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) to get underway next summer. Tree cutting to clear the way for the bridge work is scheduled to begin in February.

The bridge replacement involves the Township of West Milford, Borough of Butler and Borough of Kinnelon. Public input regarding the tree cutting plan is being accepted now through September 6. To learn more about the project or to submit comments, go to

Built in 1934, the concrete-encased steel through-girder superstructure is supported on concrete columns and spill through abutments with a width of 60.5 feet. The NJDOT identified the need for replacement of the bridge due to the poor condition of its deck, and geometric deficiencies that do not meet current standards.

The existing 513-foot-long bridge is located at Route 23 milepost 16.99 in West Milford (just south of the entrance to High Crest Lake) and the Borough of Kinnelon. It carries four lanes of traffic over the Pequannock River, NYSW Railway and Hamburg Turnpike southbound ramp, which links northeast and northwest parts of the state via connection with interstate highways I-287 and I-80.

The initial phase of the project will deforest 2.57 acres (526 trees) and is consistent with methodology in the New Jersey No Net Loss (NNL) Restoration Act program guidelines. The ACT requires holding a public forum when greater than one acre of deforestation occurs in an area owned or maintained by a state entity.

The NJDOT will provide monetary compensation for 2.07 acres (423 trees) of deforestation to the Shade Tree and Community Forest Preservation License Plate Fund. The affected towns will be advised by forestry services as to the types of grants available to help fund tree planting within their community.