Bridgewater is a simple station on the Raritan Valley Line with an interesting history. The station was originally the Calco station which was basically an employee stop that served the American Cyanamid Company's Claco Chemical Division plant that was in operation from 1915 to 1999 in this location and is now a Superfund Site from years of manufacturing chemicals and dyes. At the time of the plant's closing on a portion of the plant's land was used to build the new (then called) Somerset Ballpark that opened in June 1999, known as Commerce Bank Ballpark from 2000 until 2008 when TD bought that bank so it is now known as TD Bank Park. The 6,100 seat stadium is home to the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League. The new ballpark brought with it a plethora of parking spaces and the never fully closed Calco Station was repurposed from a stop for plant employees to a new Park & Ride Station. Railroad passengers are now allowed to park in the 'White Stadium lot' for $4 a day (it was originally free, the price for ballpark events is $2) which has 467 spaces (and more commuter parking could be expanded to the two other ballpark lots). When I visited (January 2013), the parking spaces closest to the platforms were closed as solar panels are being installed above them that will also provide shade to cars.
The 'renovation' from the Calco station to the Bridgewater station in 2000 included building a modern brick heated shelter with heat lamps on the Newark-bound platform and fencing and parking lot access upgrades but the station is still extremely simple and clearly from an industrial past. In 2001 the stop was dedicated to Aurthur L. Ruben (1921 to 1999) who was a founder of the Raritan Valley Line coalition, member of the New Jersey association of Railroad Passengers and former director of the Somerset County Planning Board. It was his vision that converted the Calco station into today's park & ride station. The TVMs didn't arrive until June 2011. The station is in an industrial/commercial area but the Prominade Bridgewater shopping center is across Main Street from the ballpark and station access road.
The station's main access road is named Cole Drive/Patriots Park on Google maps and passengers turn onto it from Main Street on the west side of the ballpark. Here are signs for both the train station (lacking a name) and American Cyanamid Co. Lederle Labs Div. (the name of the former industrial plant). A separate sign is for the ballpark parking lots although commuters use the same lots. Pedestrian access to the station is poor and only along this same access road along the left field wall of the ballpark with a sidewalk that switches sides to finally reach the station that is just beyond the SW corner of the ballpark with the scoreboard clearly visible from passing trains. This road slowly dips down in a concrete underpass just west of the short platforms with a cornerstone of 1942.
The station itself has two very short low-level side platforms for the two track line that can only platform 2 cars (this is announced on all trains and is generally towards the back outbound, front inbound). The station is on the western portion of the Raritan Valley Line that runs at a grade, slightly west (which is parallel to the opposite end of the parking lot) of the private STS Drive (that leads to STS tire services) grade crossing and I-287 that crosses over the tracks just beyond that. The Newark-bound platform has the previously mentioned brick shelter that is quite far set back from the platforms. Inside is a button activated heater (someone had vandalized the sign to say Push Butt), two benches and the recently installed TVM plus the plaque for Authur Ruben. The station has the usual non-historic font signs and simple lampposts. The platforms each have a single orange LED sign that seemed to be permanently stuck on Bridgewater when I visited.
The only exit from the Newark-bound platform is past a modern and tall Bridgewater station sign set back from the tracks (like those found in many parking lots). Passengers must then cross through a gate in a chainlink fence and reach an abandoned road that still has a fading yellow line in the middle of it. Passengers go over the access road on a separate parallel, concrete bridge that curves south (past an old sign on the chain linked fence that says Bldg. 40 Secondary Assembly Area) slightly before there is a staircase down to the main set of steps (with nice 1940s green handrails) to the west sidewalk of Cole Drive where passengers can finally use the underpass to reach the station's parking lot.
The Raritan-bound platform is access via a modern short staircase or a ramp directly down to the edge of the parking lot. To get from this platform to the Newark-bound platform passengers must walk over an area of dirt to a narrow parallel pedestrian bridge with concrete sides of Cole Drive. This leads down to an original green railings concrete staircase down to the west side of Cole Drive where the sidewalk is for underpass access and the staircase up to the Newark-bound platform.
All Photos taken on 7 January, 2013