Remember when I was rambling about Nike Road yesterday? Do you? Today I intend to ramble about the Nike Road bridge.
For twenty years after the Watchung Reservation Nike base was deactivated in 1963, as far as I can tell, both the launcher and the control area lay abandoned and unused.
And then, in the 1970s, I-78 came along.
The interstate was originally supposed to cut right through the Watchung Reservation, but the locals were definitively not okay with that. For years, a war raged between angry locals and equally angry road-builders.
Eventually, in the mid-1980s, they came to an agreement: I-78 would be built, but it would just skirt the northern edge of the Watchung Reservation (which necessitated blasting through the Second Watchung Mountain, which was a pain), and several non-road-bearing land bridges would be constructed to allow wildlife from the Watchung Reservation to migrate across the interstate without interfering with traffic.
One of those land bridges, as I’ve already shown you, was the bunny bridge.
The other land bridge is Nike Road, a little one-lane maintenance road that ran from Glenside Avenue to the Missile Tracking Radar Station.
While the lore says that Nike Road has always been part of the Nike missile station, the Nike Road bridge is dated 1985; if the missile station was deactivated in 1963, and I-78 wasn’t constructed until the 1980s, there was certainly no reason to build an overpass for an unused road. And there was certainly no need to line it with the same tall grass that’s found on the bunny bridge.
So as far as I can tell, Nike Road bridge was wholly intended to serve as an alternative to the bunny bridge for a wildlife migration land bridge… and maybe some maintenance vehicles from time to time, because why else would they go to the trouble of paving it?
(I haven’t seen this explicitly stated anywhere, so this is my own conclusion; if you have additional information either confirming or denying this, please leave a comment below!)
But as I mentioned yesterday, it seems like vehicles aren’t really a priority, because the road is currently obstructed by logs (which are, generally speaking, not very friendly to things on wheels).
And that’s that. For additional information, refer to my sources below.
Alpert, S. (n.d.). “New Jersey Roads – Nikesite Rd., Union Co.” Alps’ Roads. http://www.alpsroads.net/roads/nj/nikesite/.
Alpert, S. (n.d.). “New Jersey Roads – I-78.” Alps’ Roads. http://www.alpsroads.net/roads/nj/i-78/.
Bender, D.E. (n.d.). “Nike Battery NY-73: Summit, NJ.” Nike Missiles and Missile Sites. http://alpha.fdu.edu/~bender/NY73.html.
Harpster, F. (2009). “Missiles in Mountainside: Nike Battery NY-73.” From the Hetfield House (newsletter). http://www.mountainsidehistory.org/files/HHnewsletter09final.pdf (PDF).
LostinJersey Blog. (2009). “Summit Nike base.” http://lostinjersey.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/summit-nike-base/.
Troeger, V.B. (2005). Images of America: Berkeley Heights Revisited. Arcadia Publishing: Charleston, SC. ISBN 0738537527.
Wikipedia. (2012). “Interstate 78 in New Jersey.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_78_in_New_Jersey#History.