Monmouth County has effectively banned trucks from the Oceanic Bridge starting today as engineers conduct a review of the 70-year-old span’s condition.
A three-ton weight limit was announced by the office of county Engineer Joe Ettore yesterday. The Asbury Park Press reports that the reduction is the second in a month, and follows recent work on the drawbridge mechanism and inspections the structure, which traverses the Navesink River between Rumson and Middletown.
“We put an inspector over the side (of the bridge) to grease the mechanical components and inspect the bridge,” Ettore said. “As a result of the findings, we feel we need to downpost the weight limit. We need a more detailled look and analysis of the conditions we observed.”
County engineers and an expert on movable bridges will make an inspection of the bridge Friday, Ettore said.
An Asbury Park Press video of the bridge opening on Oct. 9 showed rust on metal parts of the drawbridge and in some cases, rust holes in beams. The bridge’s condition is a result of salt air and water, traffic and age.
County officials had planned to shut the bridge down this winter to make repairs to the steel drawbridge section, Ettore said.
Monmouth County had planned to use $1.3 million in federal stimulus money to make temporary repairs on the Oceanic Bridge until federal officials said the life of those repairs doesn’t meet their criteria. That sent county officials scrambling to use state money earmarked for a bridge and dam replacement project in Manalapan, which already qualified for stimulus funds, and to apply to use the stimulus money that would have gone to the Oceanic Bridge to the Manalapan project, Ettore said.
Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl tells the Press that one big impact of the weight limit will be on school buses traveling to the peninsula from the Middletown side.
The limit makes an exception for fire trucks and other vehicles enroute to emergencies, but they’ll have to find another route back to their stations afterward.
Last month, the bridge was among county bridges approved for funding by the New Jersey Transportation Planning Authority’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for the years 2010-2013. Funding calls for both the replacement of structural steel and a study of options, including whether to rehabilitate or replace the bridge.