The U.S. 322, Mullica Hill Pond Dam Bridge replacement project in Mullica Hill, New Jersey was named a regional winner in the 2015 America’s Transportation Awards competition. Co-sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, America’s Transportation Awards recognizes the best of America’s transportation projects in four regional competitions.
The $8.1 million project, one of two New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) initiatives to be selected, was chosen by the Northeast Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in the Quality of Life/Community Development category and will advance to compete on the national stage. The top two winners will be announced in September at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.
Mullica Hill is a census-designated place in Harrison Township, Gloucester County, New Jersey. The scenic area was established in the eighteenth century and boasts a rich historical background, with many of its buildings dating back to the Civil War era. In 1991, the Mullica Hill Historic District—the heart of present-day Mullica Hill—was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Mullica Hill Pond Dam is located at milepost 11.51 on U.S. 322 at the Raccoon Creek Bridge crossing. The roadway is part of a major transportation route and channels a high volume of traffic to historic Main Street—known for its rows of antique shops and specialty stores. Mullica Hill’s location within the local road network was a key reason for its growth throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The two structures exhibited signs of disrepair. The Mullica Hill Pond Dam spillway was inadequately sized to pass the required design storm, and the timber stop logs had a history of failing and emptying the pond. The bridge over the spillway was found to be structurally deficient and functionally obsolete due to poor deck and superstructure condition and inadequate deck geometry. In August 2011, conditions deteriorated when Tropical Storm Irene slammed the region with heavy rainfall, causing the dam to overtop and incur serious damage. As a result, the vital roadway was temporarily shut down while provisional repairs were made.
To address the threat to public safety and provide a long-term solution, NJDOT engaged a team led by McCormick Taylor to provide inspection, environmental services, preliminary engineering, final design, and construction support. Public information centers were hosted throughout the project to maintain two-way communication between residents, business owners, and project stakeholders. Initial construction activities and utility relocations began in February 2013.
The improvements for the Mullica Hill Pond Dam and U.S. 322 Raccoon Creek Bridge were approved by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Dam Safety Section and included the following:
Raised a section of the Route 322 roadway to improve roadway drainage
Complete bridge replacement
Constructed a new dam spillway to pass the 100-year design storm and upgraded drainage pipes/inlets/outfalls
Minor realignment of U.S. 322 in the immediate vicinity of the dam, to improve sight distance, and the “S” curve at the western bridge/dam approach roadway
Installation of a new fish ladder
Enhancements such as exposed aggregate sidewalk, lighting and textured concrete treatments
Construction was performed with a full detour and utilized a recently completed bypass on U.S. 322. Access to all businesses along Main Street remained open. The detour shortened the overall construction schedule, provided a safer construction zone, and reduced the total project cost.
Ultimately, the finished project brought the Mullica Hill Pond Dam into compliance with NJDEP Dam Safety standards. The improvements mitigate flooding issues along the crucial roadway and the replacement of the bridge over Raccoon Creek improved safety for motorists. The quality of life within the community has been bettered not only by these structural upgrades, but through improvements to pedestrian access and safety. Additional sidewalks and lighting were added to the project site, placed behind guide rail and concrete parapets for increased public safety. The area is now a local attraction with opportunities for fishing and recreation made possible by enhanced pedestrian access and walkability to nearby Main Street.