The Rahway River Greenway Committee is a busy group. They meet on the second Tuesday of each month at Village Hall at 7 p.m., and the public is more than welcome to attend to listen and to provide input on the next steps in South Orange riparian repair and improvement.
The most visible sign of their success is the South Orange's newest bridge, which connects the middle school parking lot and Duck Pond with the pool and playing fields. Work began on the new bridge in June -- contractors have to stay out of the river by DEP permit condition from April 30 to June 1 due to habitat preservation concerns – but planning began years before. The work done this summer saw a brief delay, explain committee members, as the Joint Meeting of Essex and Union County sewer trunk line (which runs alongside the right of the river, heading southward) was not where the plans showed it to be. Nonetheless, work progressed and the bridge opened in early August.
After a “robust” exchange and a meeting, the committee chose blue for the bridge.
This bridge provides improved access to the South Orange Middle School and the South Orange Municipal Pool and although its structural design is akin to the red oxide bridge now known as Jonathan’s bridge, “the color for this bridge was carefully considered,” according to members of the committee.
The consensus among the Rahway River Greenway Committee members was to differentiate this bridge from the other by choosing another primary color, blue. The blue color was initially considered for its association with the public pool but “we also envisioned it to serve as a distinguishing landmark itself - as bold a statement as the red oxide bridge.” The committee imagined people saying, “Meet me by the blue bridge,” or “See you at the red bridge,” thereby allowing each moment along the river to be recognized independently.
Huzefa Irfani, an architect on the committee, took some pictures of flowers and plants in the landscape near the bridge to help the group decide. Standing at the site, the group decided that “National Blue,” which was first suggested by Frank Rodino, a committee member, and which was on almost every one’s preferred list, would be compelling. Several members liked Rodin’s reasoning that when parents need to pick a meeting place for their kids, Meet me by the blue bridge,” worked well. The committee then asked for the stone work to be grayish in color to match the primary blue, than the brownish stones that accompany the red bridge. This involved no extra cost.
The Next (Waterlands) Bridge
As South Orange moves into the next phase of the Rahway River development, there will be a third pedestrian bridge that connects the active recreation areas at Waterlands Park with the passive recreation areas on the opposite side of the river, near the DPW yard, and Chyzowych Field. Once again, says the committee, a bold color statement will be the key towards continuing the story along the river.
Want to know more, or get involved? The committee welcomes public input. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at Village Hall at 7 p.m.