BRIDGE OPERATIONS PRIVATIZED

rumson-sb-bridge-100511 The control room of the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge will be staffed by employees of a private firm beginning next year following action Thursday by the Monmouth County Freeholders. (Click to enlarge)

The Oceanic Bridge and the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge are among the four movable Monmouth County bridges whose operations will be run by a private contractor starting next year, according to a report by the Asbury Park Press.

Reporter Joe Sapia writes that the Monmouth County Freeholders “voted 5 to 0 Wednesday to turn over the operation of the bridges to a Florida company, which a county analysis shows can do the job at an annual savings of $572,270.”

The other two bridges affected are the bridge over the Shark River Inlet between Avon and Belmar, and the Brielle Avenue bridge over Glimmer Glass in Manasquan.

From the Press:

The county’s 21 bridge workers will be offered interviews with the company, Drawbridge Services Inc. of Pompano Beach, Fla., according to discussion at the freeholders meeting. The company does not work in New Jersey and so has no employees based in-state now.

Drawbridge Services would run the bridges, providing workers and doing some maintenance, throughout 2012 for $1,485,508. The county also would have the option to renew the contract at the same price for the two following years.

Costs to the county would have only gone up in future years, because of benefits and other factors, said John W. Tobia, director of the county Department of Public Works and Engineering.

In going with Drawbridge Services, the freeholders rejected a proposal by the affected bridge workers, whose plan showed $448,000 in savings.

While 21 bridge workers are now on the job, a full crew would be 30. One way the the bridge workers proposed saving money was by using a full crew of only 27, according to Mike DiGangi, a bridge operator and shop steward of Communications Workers of America Local 1032

Additional savings would come from more efficient scheduling, according to Local 1032.

The local said that under the plan approved by the freeholders, while the current workers are county employees already on the job, the new workers would be employees of a private company.

“You’re going to get what you pay for,” DiGangi said.