A Big Win for Bordentown City: NJDOT Announces it Will Repair — Not Replace — Farnsworth Ave. Bridge

BORDENTOWN CITY, NJ — Bordentown City was delivered a big win this week, as the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) announced that it has halted its plans to demolish a centerpiece of the community.

The City of Bordentown and Senator Troy Singleton announced this week that the NJDOT officially decided that it will not be tearing down and replacing the historic Farnsworth Avenue Bridge and instead will be repairing the structure. The decision came down on June 4, after NJDOT Acting Commissioner Francis O'Connor joined Bordentown City officials and staffers from Singleton's office to tour the site. Acting Commissioner O’Connor stated that, based on its safety review, the Farnsworth Avenue Bridge can be repaired from underneath and that demolition and reconstruction were not necessary.

The move ends "several years of speculation and worry on the part of the community," and will mitigate impact on the Veterans Memorial that sits above the bridge, as well as the downtown business district, said Bordentown City officials. 

“On behalf of the governing body, we cannot thank NJDOT and Commissioner (Francis) O’Connor enough for their willingness to listen to our concerns and work with us to craft a win-win situation for everyone," said Mayor Jennifer Sciortino. 

The NJDOT in 2019 first proposed tearing down the existing bridge and replacing it, citing functional and construction deficiencies. The project would have been "potentially devastating" to Bordentown City, according to City officials. 

"As the oldest stone masonry arch bridge spanning a railway in the entire country, the historical and geological implications of replacing the bridge would have been significant," said officials in a statement, noting that Farnsworth Avenue was expected to be closed to traffic for upwards of two years during construction. "The physical and economic impact on the surrounding community could have been potentially devastating." 

In addition, the Veterans Memorial, which memorializes those Veterans from Bordentown City who have fought from the Revolutionary War to the present-day and sits above the bridge, would have been removed and stored during the replacement work.

The decision to repair, rather than replace, the bridge came after four years of City officials, Senator Singleton and community organizations rallying, meeting NJDOT officials, passing a governing body resolution, signing petitions and erecting lawn signs. 

Sciortino thanked Singleton and his office for their support, saying that their help "ultimately helped us forge this compromise."

"On behalf of the governing body, we cannot thank the NJDOT and Commissioner O'Connor enough for their willingness to listen to our concerns and work with us to craft a win-win situation for everyone," said Sciortino. "We also owe Senator Singleton and his staff a debt of gratitude for quickly jumping into action and advocating for Bordentown City every step of the way." 

"This solution will protect public safety without creating any major disruptions that could have harmed our small, local businesses, the Veterans Memorial, or any number of historical features in our downtown, including the bridge itself," she continued. "A special thanks also goes out to the members of the Veterans Memorial Committee, the Downtown Bordentown Association and the Bordentown Historical Society, who played a pivotal role by lending their time and expertise to advocate for repairing this historic bridge. This was truly a team effort over the last few years with the community at large coming together and rallying to preserve our historic charm." 

Singleton called the decision a "huge win for Bordentown City."

"Simply put, we did not want to see Farnsworth Avenue shut down to reconstruct this bridge, as it is the lifeblood of this community," said Singleton, who noted that Wednesday's site visit by Commissioner O'Connor was the result of a meeting his office facilitated between the City and NJDOT. 

"This is a huge victory for this historical treasure, the Veterans’ Memorial atop the bridge, the businesses along Farnsworth Avenue, and the community overall," said Singleton. "This was a true partnership in every sense, and the best example of how government at all levels can work together to find common-sense solutions. It would not have been possible without the dogged advocacy of Mayor Sciortino. She echoed the concerns that were shared by the Downtown Bordentown Association, Bordentown Historical Society and the Veterans Memorial Committee, leading up to this decision. And a huge thank you to Acting Commissioner O’Connor for not just hearing our collective concerns, but listening to them."

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