Just when they thought the temporary fixes to the Oceanic Bridge were coming to an end, and traffic could proceed as usual, Monmouth County officials have announced that the bridge needs more major work and will be closed from May 26 to June 12.
The April structural steel and concrete deck repair work to the bridge that spans the Navesink from Rumson to Middletown revealed the need for more significant repair work critical to safe traverse.
Two of the bridge’s four main bearings are in imminent need of repair and the other two will be fixed as well, Monmouth County Engineer Joseph Ettore said in a release. The bearings are part of the mechanism that supports the bascule and flanking spans on the bridge approaches, he explained.
The $653,650 needed for the additional repair work on 100-foot bascule span of the 2,712-foot historic drawbridge was authorized by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders at its April 24 meeting.
The Board of Chosen Freeholders authorized $653,650 for the repairs to the 100-foot bascule span of the 2,712-foot historic drawbridge at its April 24 meeting.
“It is prudent to lift the bridge spans and perform the repairs to all four of the bearings,” said Ettore. “The bearings in need of immediate repair are on the eastern side of the bridge, but the county is also going to repair the bearings on the western side of the bridge.
“The nature of the work repair requires that the bridge load be relieved by lifting the bascule and approach spans off of the bearing. To accomplish this, the Oceanic Bridge must be closed to motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic.”
During the period of complete closure, the bridge will still be open for marine traffic, seasonal rules and scheduling will be in effect, the release said.
The hold-off of the total closure until after Memorial Day weekend was scheduled to accommodate the holiday traffic, officials said.
Working around the clock will make it possible to open the bridge to all traffic just a few weeks into the start of the summer season, they added.
Preparation for the bearing work will start immediately and continue weekdays through May 21.
That work may require full overnight closures of the bridge from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. from May 13 to 15 and May 18 through 21, the release said.
The bridge will be open to all traffic from May 22 through Memorial Day on May 25.
Detours will be posted. But, standard alternatives are: from Rumson to Middletown, motorists should travel east and north through Sea Bright and Highlands to Middletown; and, from the Navesink and Locust sections of Middletown, motorists are advised to travel east and south through Middletown, Highlands and Sea Bright to Rumson.
Built in 1939, the Oceanic Bridge has deteriorated due to decades of exposure to saltwater and from accommodating heavier vehicles and traffic volumes than for which it was designed, the release said.
In 2012, extensive rehabilitation work was done to the bascule span, or drawbridge portion, in the center.
It is slated for total replacement within the next 10 years. Area residents have rallied to maintain the original design of the drawbridge.
Monmouth County received notification from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) Board of Trustees in January that $600,000 in federal funding was available to perform a Concept Development Study for the replacement or rehabilitation of the Oceanic Bridge.