Orange Reservoir Walkway and Pedestrian Bridges Installed by TSG
May 5, 2014
A ceremony was held today to announce the opening of a 1.75-mile walking path around the Orange Reservoir, located at the South Mountain Reservation in Essex County. The Shauger Group, Inc. (TSG) served as the project’s contractor, after being determined the successful low bidder at the August 22, 2013 public bid opening. The bid had been issued by the County of Essex, which is presently leasing the Orange Reservoir property from the City of Orange and thus remains responsible for all site maintenance until the lease expires in 2032.
As Mayor of Orange Dwayne Warren stated at today’s ceremony, “This is just a project that needed to happen.”
The walking path came as part of a series of improvements to the South Mountain Reservation and the Orange Reservoir, specifically. The previous stages of development included the launch of the adjacent paddle boating dock and 30-by-60 foot picnic pavilion, both of which were opened to the community on July 19, 2013.
The walkway project, designed by French & Parrello, involved the installation of two pedestrian bridges along the walkway. The smaller bridge is seventy feet-long, while the main aluminum bridge is arched, is eighty-four feet in length, and spans across the Reservoir’s dam. Both bridges are emblazoned in the center with the circular Essex County logo and crisscross boat oars.
Lighting has been added along the circumference of the Reservoir and in the bridges to allow for nighttime passage. The smaller bridge possesses lights at each entranceway; the main bridge, which is intended to serve as the Reservoir’s focal point, is illuminated with lights from multiple directions.
On November 25, 2013, a press conference was first held to publicly announce plans for the Reservoir walkway project. At the press conference, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo discussed Essex County’s desire to attract even more visitors to the entire Reservation through enhancements to the Reservoir site and through the addition of a free recreational activity.
“[This walkway] brings an additional recreation activity to people, and it’s not going to cost them anything—to be able to walk, to be able to jog, to be able to bike,” said DiVincenzo.
At the event, DiVincenzo also noted that, surrounding the Reservoir, there are two thousand acres of open space at the Reservation. The walkway will give people access to various hiking trails in the area or will simply just allow them to “enjoy the beauty” of what the location has to offer.
TSG’s work on the project commenced in December, beginning with the removal of trees from specified locations. Thousands of feet of conduit subsequently was successfully installed underground, despite an ongoing struggle to pump out water and remove snow and ice as that was being done.
In fact, the extreme amounts of precipitation brought about by this past winter did not just pose challenges to the conduit work. According to Carpenter Foreman Michael Augustine, it was also especially difficult for TSG workers to install the footings for the bridges in those severe weather conditions.
“It was tough because the footings were going below water level,” said Augustine. “Every morning, we had to pump out water or break up ice before we could go into the trenches.”
The overall scope of work for the project was broad, including excavating, backfilling, grading, paving, and sealing, as well as the installation of stamped concrete, a retaining wall, footings, and the bridges.
As always, any issues TSG came across were dealt with swiftly and completely so as to ensure the utmost quality of the final product. One such challenge manifested itself when TSG attempted to put in the concrete abutments; TSG was first forced to break up rock for two to three weeks before finishing that stage of the project. Similarly, when the manufacturer unexpectedly discontinued a block color while TSG installed the retaining wall, TSG quickly set up a batch plan to solve this issue.
On April 2, 2014, TSG brought in a crane operator to crane the bridges and position them properly before TSG workers secured them in place.
Portions of the perimeter of the Reservoir are lined with a rail system consisting of wooden poles and wire mesh. The wooden poles are designed on their bases in such a way to allow for built-in mobility if a dam overflow were ever to occur. Although an overflow has never previously happened, even during Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, this additional protective measure was taken so that the wooden poles will simply rotate around a fixed point—and not snap—in the event of extreme weather.
Clean-up was also performed to remove any old and dead debris, as well as to eliminate graffiti on the dam. A steep slope was cut back to ensure that the walkway is ADA-compliant, and mile markers are located every one-tenth of a mile around the Reservoir.
TSG provided all landscaping services around the Reservoir as well. Mulch was laid, plants were arranged, and stone was positioned to accentuate the already picturesque scenery. To further contribute to the setting’s pristine and well-manicured look, the perimeter also features planters, which contain flora that will grow four to five feet in height.
Adirondack chairs sit between many of the planters, and benches line the pathway leading to the smaller bridge.
Seating areas were designated with the hope that the Reservoir will become an oft-frequented destination. The benches will serve as resting spots for walkers and joggers utilizing the walkway and nearby hiking trails, as well as points of relaxation for photographers, readers, and anyone else desiring to relax in the presence of nature.
“Having grown up in West Orange, Donald and I are both blown away by the incredible transformation this area has seen over recent years,” said Lisa Shauger, President/CEO of TSG. “We both have fond memories of going to the Turtle Back Zoo as kids. Back then, we never could have imagined the amazing possibilities that were in store for it in the future. All it took was great vision and great teamwork to make those possibilities a reality.”
“We are incredibly proud of our company’s role in helping make that transformation possible,” added Donald Shauger, Executive Vice President of TSG. “With the Reservoir walkway and bridge project, we once again were able to put Essex County residents to work—on a project to benefit Essex County residents. This project is just one of many that families will enjoy for years to come at the South Mountain Recreation Complex.”
To view a feature video on the Orange Reservoir Walkway and Pedestrian Bridges, please visit our Videos tab or click here.