Old Native American trails now well-maintained county roads

Commissioners sign $12.2 million contract for their resurfacing

The first Burlington County roads were originally Native-American trails that ran along waterways and were used to transport people and goods.

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The Riverton thoroughfare (Chester Avenue), called “The Great Road” or “Meeting House Lane” in early Friends Meeting records, was surveyed in about 1720, doubtless for the convenience of the group’s families living near the river, according to the West Jersey History website.

“Prior to the opening of this highway, the only road leading from the Delaware River to Moorestown followed an Indian trail that started at the river bank a little north of Riverton, and crossing Kings Highway at its highest point, skirted the Mount at Mount Laurel and passed on through the pines to the seashore,” the site said.

“This trail was used very extensively by the Native Americans, especially in the spring, when they made their annual pilgrimage to the seashore to feast on fish, oysters and clams.”

Route 130 was part of two Lenni Lenape trails – the Pennsauken Trail from Camden north to Burlington and Bordentown and the Lower Assunpink Trail north to New Brunswick.

From these humble origins, Burlington County now has one of the finest and well-maintained road systems in the state, and county commissioners recently approved a new $12.2-million contract for road resurfacing work to help maintain transportation infrastructure and save significant tax dollars.

The contractor is Earle Asphalt Inc., which will repave just over 34 miles on 17 county roads through 13 municipalities as part of this year’s road overlay program, said county spokesperson David Levinsky.

Four of the roads to be repaved are major arteries – Tuckerton Road, Westfield/Tom Brown Road, Red Lion Road and Mount Holly/Jacksonville Road – each with more than 3.5 miles of repaving to be done.

“It’s important that all the county roads are properly maintained,’’ Levinsky noted. “That’s why the county undertakes a large road overlay program each year with New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund funding from the state.

“Road resurfacing projects are prioritized based on road conditions,” he added. “Repaving these roads is important for public safety and is fiscally responsible, since delaying can result in extensive damages and more expensive repairs.”

“Burlington County is the largest county in New Jersey and is responsible for more than 500 miles of county roads, 411 bridges and 700 culverts, and we have an outstanding record of maintaining and enhancing that infrastructure,” said county Commissioner Tom Pullion, liaison to the Department of Public Works.

“At the same time, it’s also our responsibility to provide strong fiscal oversight. and this contract is an example of our commitment to ensuring county tax dollars are used responsibly.”

Approximately $10.2 million in state funding will be used for the project, with the county responsible for about $2 million. The contract was successfully negotiated after the commissioners rejected bids from contractors twice this fall, because those bids significantly exceeded the engineer’s cost estimates for the work, according to Levinsky.

The final negotiated contract is more than $650,000 below the lowest bid received during the first round, and it is more than $360,000 below the lowest submission from the second round.

“Rejecting the bids and negotiating a fiscally responsible contract saved hundreds of thousands of tax dollars while still living up to our responsibility to properly maintain our infrastructure,” Pullion explained. 

“Actions like this is why our county had the lowest average county tax the last three years,” he added. “The commissioners’ decision to rebid the road overlay contract reflects their commitment to sound fiscal management and ensuring that all county funds are spent responsibly and efficiently.” 

“The end result was that the county was able to negotiate a responsible contract that will save hundreds of thousands of tax dollars while still maintaining the county infrastructure,” Levinsky said.

Work on the road resurfacing is expected to begin soon and will progress through winter as weather permits. The resurfacing is in addition to work already performed this year in house by crews from the county Division of Roads and Bridges.

“The county will repave any small bridges on the identified stretch of roadway,” Levinsky noted. “The county’s inventory of 411 bridges are inspected regularly, and bridge replacement and repair work is prioritized based on available funding.”


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