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WEST ORANGE — Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. and Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren announced May 5 the completion of a $2.2 million project to install two pedestrian bridges and complete the walking path around the Orange Reservoir, which is located in the West Orange section of the South Mountain Recreation Complex. The upgrades create a 1.7-mile pathway around the waterway and are designed to transform the area into a recreation destination.
“With this project, we are beginning to realize the potential of the Orange Reservoir as a recreation destination. Having a continuous walkway around the perimeter of the waterway creates unbelievable opportunities to enjoy nature, link to hiking trails in South Mountain Reservation and observe different perspectives of this magnificence open space that were never possible before,” DiVincenzo said, according to a press release.
An 84-foot bridge was constructed at the dam on the southern side of the Orange Reservoir.
It is constructed with a decorative archway and lighting that makes it the focal point of that section of the Orange Reservoir. The second bridge is 70 feet long and crosses a creek leading into the reservoir. It was designed to match its larger counterpart downstream.
Previous projects had opened the walkway around the Orange Reservoir from the Turtle Back Zoo entrance past McLoone’s Boathouse Restaurant and ending at the paddle boat dock and picnic area. This phase completed the construction of the walkway around the rest of the reservoir, from the paddle boat and picnic area, across the reservoir dam and along the eastern side of the reservoir, connecting at the Turtle Back Zoo entrance.
The pathway is wheelchair accessible and enhances access to several trails leading into the South Mountain Reservation. There is also decorative lighting designed with a nautical theme, additional landscaping and trees, an irrigation system, fencing, park benches and trash receptacles.
French and Parrello from Wall, N.J., received a $106,923 contract to designthe upgrades. Shauger Property Services from East Orange was awarded a publicly bid contract for $2,157,260 to perform the construction work. The county’s Department of Public Works monitored the project to ensure delays were avoided. The upgrades were funded with a grant from the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund. Work started in November 2013 and was completed in less than six months.
“I am happy that the county was able to work with the mayor and council in Orange to allow this property to be opened to the public. What has been accomplished here is truly amazing,” Freeholder Vice President Patricia Sebold said, according to the release.