On the heels of what was a major, albeit bandaid, fix to a portion of the corroding Oceanic Bridge, Monmouth County officials have gotten a boost via state funding to undertake the appropriate studies to rehabilitate or replace the entire structure.
The 2016 $600,000 “concept development study” of the county-owned 2,712 foot Oceanic span between Rumson and Middletown over the Navesink River was one of five approved last week by the New Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA).
The drawbridge, built in 1939, has been targeted as one in need of replacement and/or major revamp for several years now. In 2012, major repairs to the 98-foot bascule span, or moveable drawbridge part, of the bridge was refurbished.
But, even then, officials said that that was only a temporary fix. A permanent solution, they had said, was the only answer.
Options for rehab and/or replacement have been bandied about. But, for years now, there has been a large contingent of people adamantly opposed to replacement with a fixed, higher structure. The opposition to that slightly cheaper plan have felt it would be an injustice to bridge’s historic integrity and make it more difficult to be used by pedestrians and bicyclists.
The bridge’s capacity to carry its maximum load of vehicles, too, has consistently diminished with its age and consequential deterioration from wear and tear and salt water submersion.
So, the need for a permanent plan has become more imminent and potentially costly, county officials have said.
As a result of the fiscal year 2016 NJTPA program grant, the door will be open for construction costs to be covered by federal funds.