Oceanic bridge 2008The eastern flank of the Oceanic Bridge.

Looking down the road at a $75 million bill, Monmouth County officials have begun angling for federal funds to defray some of the costs of replacing the Oceanic Bridge between Middletown and Rumson, today's Asbury Park Press reports.

The job is one of four long-range, big-ticket projects for which the county freeholders are hoping to get backing from Washington.

 From the Press:

Recently, the Oceanic Bridge was closed at nights while the
counterweights on the drawbridge section were rebalanced. At the end of
the summer, the bridge deck and deteriorated supports are to be
replaced, said Joseph Ettore, county engineer. But county officials
said they'd rather spend that federal stimulus money on the bridge's
full, permanent replacement, estimated to cost $75 million.

Freeholder James [John, actually] D'Amico voiced that concern to the
North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, which works with 13
counties and the state to allocate federal money for road, bridge and
mass transit projects.

NJTPA officials said they recognize replacing the Oceanic Bridge is
beyond the resources of most counties. "It's not your typical county
bridge. It is a large-scale project," said David Behrend, NJTPA
spokesman. "Preliminary design work continues and we anticipate it
moving forward and being included in the capital program."

Tentatively, the state Transportation Improvement Plan calls for $25 million to be allocated annually for construction of the Oceanic Bridge in 2017 and 2018, Behrend said. Money for design and buying land for the span are to be funded in 2013 and 2015.

County officials have taken steps to get the four projects into "pipeline" for federal money by doing the required studies. Now, they are in various stages of preliminary design or study and three are on the state plan for the next 10 years.

The other three projects on the county's wish list, according to the Press, are the replacement of the Glimmer Glass Bridge between Manasquan and Brielle; improvements at the Route 34 and Route 537 intersection in Colts Neck and the replacement of two bridges there; and the widening Route 66 in Neptune and Tinton Falls to four lanes.

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