nrrd-062910A man checked out the newly rebuilt roadway over the earthen dam shortly after it reopened Tuesday night. (Click to enlarge)

A stretch of Navesink River Road in Middletown was reopened Tuesday night, 13 weeks after a culvert collapse that Monmouth County officials thought would take four weeks to fix.

The reopening eliminates one potential source of trouble in keeping huge numbers of cars moving into and out of Red Bank for the KaBoom Fireworks on the Navesink Saturday night. The event is typically watched by a crowd estimated at about 150,000 people.

A county official told redbankgreen last week that he anticipated the road would be reopened by June 30, barring rain and a repeat of the kinds of mishaps that have plagued the job.

Additional work still need to be done, but the roadway will remain open while it is underway, according to press release issued by county spokesman Bill Heine last night

More from the announcement:

“After a number of disappointing delays beyond the county’s control, I am pleased to report ┬áthat the road is open,” said Freeholder John P. Curley, liaison to the county’s Department of Public Works and Engineering, which is performing the work in-house. “Our concern was to reopen the road to vehicular traffic as soon as possible and to ensure Navesink River Road is open in time for the big fireworks display this weekend in Red Bank. We have achieved that goal.”

Heavy rains in March had caused a culvert running under Navesink River Road to collapse, forcing the closure of the road between Route 35 and Hubbard Avenue.

The county’s engineering, bridge and highway crews are performing the work in-house, alleviating the expense and the time it would have taken to go out for public bidding to hire a private contractor and engineering consultant. Despite the delays, the county project will be completed more expeditiously and with a substantial cost savings.

Navesink River Road adjacent to Poricy Brook Pond serves as an earthen dam with two pipes running underneath. During the March storms, as the height of the pond rose, it put pressure and velocity on the water passing underneath the road, undermining the supporting soil and unsettling the road. Water drains from Poricy Brook Pond to Swimming River farther south.

The damaged pipes were 50 years old and constructed of corrugated steel pipes 60 inches in diameter. They were side by side under the road. Those pipes were replaced with concrete pipes and improved fortification which will be stronger and is expected to last longer.

The project took longer than expected due mainly to problems with the utilities and water lines. Two water main breaks and an unexpected change in the scope of the work by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) led to the delays.

The county is awaiting final approval of plans for a gabion wall to be built on the downstream side of the spillway. The wall will hold soil back at the point where the pipes penetrate the earthen dam. Even without it, the road is stable for normal road conditions. That approval is expected soon.

Public Works and Engineering Director John W. Tobia said the unfinished work will have minimal impact on traffic except for limited lane closures to complete the remaining construction phase.

“I know the closure caused minor inconveniences for many people who live in that area and I want to thank them for their patience during the construction,” Curley said.