The replacement for the Edgemont Park bridge, which has been out of commission for more than a year and a half, has been installed.

The new bridge spans the Second River, connecting the two sides of the park. Pedestrians can now use it as a shortcut, instead of having to walk over to Parkway to reach the other side of Edgemont Park.

The previous bridge was damaged on Sept. 1, 2021, when Tropical Storm Ida (downgraded from a hurricane) tore through Montclair. Although the span remained in place, it was left with an unsafe incline between the bridge’s walking surface and the park paths. So it was barricaded and closed to pedestrian traffic.

The lengthy replacement process prompted the creation of a Twitter account called Edgemont Park Bridge (@edgemontbridge), which has followed developments since July 2022. The lack of a bridge has been considered a hardship for some people with mobility issues and some seniors who make use of the adjacent Edgemont Park House.

Wider than its predecessor, the new bridge has high grated railings made of weathered steel. The walking path is now brick rather than concrete. The township also repaved the walkways surrounding the bridge and landscaped the slopes beneath it.

Second Ward Councilor Robin Schlager pushed for the bridge replacement and was involved in the selection of the type of span. Late last year she was presented with images of two similar bridges – one with a black painted framework and handrails, the other constructed with weathered steel. She chose the second option.

“I believe that the weathered steel bridge has a lot more character,” she said in January. “And as far as I know from our engineers, the weathered steel will hold up longer, whereas the painted steel has a certain lifespan and perhaps will peel at some point.”

Weathered steel, also regarded as unfinished steel, will quickly develop a surface rust, creating a rugged and natural feel without compromising its durability. That should blend in with the surroundings.

Montclair resident Rob Smith walks his dog in Edgemont Park almost every day.

“I’m happy they’re fixing it,” Smith said. “It was a pain in the ass. We’d always forget it was closed and then we had to walk around to the street. The new bridge is a valuable addition to our modern lifestyle.”

Ramsay Kouri, who has lived in Montclair for 15 years, said the township did a satisfactory job with the new bridge.

“It’s actually quite nice,” Kouri said. “It’s nicer than the prior one. I did not mind the detour, but it will definitely be faster now. I used to take the bridge to get to the train. Now, it will be my shortcut again.”