July 8, 2020: Metuchen government has proven its dedication over the years to making the borough a more pedestrian friendly place. Officials have long sought and received money through grants and other funding sources to help make borough streets safer for walkers.
With this kind of dedication to pedestrian safety, it’s unfortunate, and curious, that one of the borough’s premier pedestrian bridges remains closed after being judged unsafe during an inspection in 2018.
Kahn’s Crossing connects Graham Avenue across the Greenway trail gap. Graham is one of the most historically significant streets in Metuchen and attracts pedestrians strolling the neighborhood or heading to the train station from the southwest section of the borough.
(Full disclosure, I walked Kahn’s Crossing daily as a train commuter to NYC).
The borough engineer in 2018 found during a routine inspection that the bridge had rusted through, according to Mayor Jonathan Busch. The engineer determined the bridge was not repairable and needed replacement, Busch told me over email.
Complete bridge replacement would cost $190,000, Melissa Perilstein, borough administrator, said. For the third year in a row, Metuchen applied for a state Department of Transportation grant to fund a portion of the cost to replace the bridge, Perilstein said.
In March 2018, the borough awarded Maser Consulting (the borough engineering firm) $9,500 to design a repair plan for the bridge, according to minutes from the March 19 2018 borough council meeting.
Later that year, the borough applied for the state Department of Transportation grant for the bridge reconstruction project. The borough submitted the same grant in July 2019.
This is not the first time the bridge has closed, apparently. I’m no historian, but some simple internet research found that the bridge was named for a former environmental commission member Donald Kahn, who died in 2006. Kahn worked to have the bridge re-opened and was honored for his efforts by having the bridge named after him, according to a 2006 issue of Nannygoats, the newsletter of the Metuchen-Edison Historical Society.
I have a few questions: what happened to the bridge? Why did it fall into disrepair and was that the result of some sort of design flaw or construction error? If so, who was responsible? I put the questions out and if I get answers I’ll update the blog.
If you know anything, hit me up here or on the Facebook page.