Commuters rejoice: Route 518 bridge now open

Workers complete bridge repairs on Thursday afternoon. Photo: Frances Fowler Slade.

The Route 518 bridge in Rocky Hill opened on Thursday night, ending a 10-month nightmare for area commuters.

Work on the bridge spanning the Delaware & Raritan Canal began on July 6 and was scheduled to have been completed in about four weeks. Gov. Chris Christie froze work on all state-funded projects less than a week later. Residents held protests at the bridge on a daily basis starting in August. In September, the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders announced that it was in talks with the DOT to offer stopgap funding for the project so that work could as negotiations to fund the state’s transportation fund continued. In October, the state legislature passed a bill that was signed by Governor Chris Christie increasing the state gasoline tax by 23 cents a gallon to fund the transportation fund.

Work on the bridge resumed at the end of November but was stopped in February because of environmental issues.

The closure of the bridge has been a major headache for commuters, more than doubling the driving time for many people. Area businesses have also suffered because of the closure and traffic.