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Construction Partially Closes Mount Airy Road

Signs in place for official detour along Pill Hill and Meeker roads to reach downtown Bernardsville.

Workers from the New Jersey American Water Co. were out measuring Mount Airy Road on Tuesday for the start of the first phase of a complete overhall of the county road that eventually will include repaving, drainage work and the replacement of crumbling retaining walls and sidewalks south of Olcott Square in Bernardsville.

The road is now closed to all but local traffic and school buses.

This first phase of a larger $5 million road project, that will eventually also include replacing crumbling retaining walls and sidewalks in the area, could continue for about two months or a little more, Tricia Smith, principal highway engineer for Somerset County, said about a week ago.

Detour signs already were in place at the road's intersection with West Oak Street and Pill Hill Road in Basking Ridge at the southern end of the project. Vehicles are supposed to head down Pill Hill to Meeker Road, and then access Route 202 north into downtown Bernardsville.

Truck drivers are supposed to follow a longer detour route along Whitenack Road to Route 202.

Somerset Hills school buses will be able to navigate Mount Airy Road while the first phase of construction is underway, Somerset Hills Schools Superintendent Peter Miller said last week. However, officials said that while the road will remain open to residents and emergency vehicles needing access, it will be closed to through traffic.

Bernards evaluating traffic impact

"We are currently evaluating the effectiveness of the detour and will suggest improvements and updates to the detour as problems are identified," Lt. Ted Reese of the Bernards Township Police Traffic Division. He said the patrol and traffic divisions are conducting selective enforcement on West Oak Street and the surrounding neighborhoods are affected by the detour to ensure the safety of residents in that area.

Courter Street in Basking Ridge also was partially blocked on Tuesday with a sign saying that road only was open to local traffic.

The larger project, being financed and directed by Somerset County, will require the road to be closed for multiple phases, starting with the planned replacement of 80-90 year old water mains under the pavement.

Some of the water pipes were stacked up on Prospect Street in Bernardsville. The subcontractors measuring the road said that the breaking up of the road surface was expected to begin on Wednesday. Smith had said the water mains would be replaced between Prospect Street and South Street in Bernardsville.

Smith said the $5 million project, to be funded by Somerset County and state transportation funds if available, also will include new storm drainage, new curbing and new sidewalks.

Smith said that the bulk of the work on Mount Airy Road could begin in the second half of 2013, either the summer or fall, or possibly the start of next year, depending on when acceptable bids are received and contracts awarded.

Bernards Township Engineer Tom Timko said none of the construction will take place in Bernards Township.

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