By JOHN T. WARD
Fingers crossed, but so far, the repair job on the Oceanic Bridge over the Navesink River between Middletown and Rumson is going like clockwork, thanks to relatively mild winter weather.
Monmouth County officials said the bridge, closed since October, is on schedule to reopen in time for the start of the summer season Memorial Day weekend.
“They’ve been fortunate with the weather,” said Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl.
The work is focused on the 100-foot-long steel bascule portion of the 2,700-foot-long span the countys longest that opens for marine traffic. Work crews have been removing, repairing and replacing everything from giant support beams to the machinery that opens the bridge to the catwalks.
From an announcement by the county press office:
During the second full month of the closure, the contractor removed and replaced two major floor beams on the north leaf of the bascule span and reinforced the east and west girders. The contractor also completed the installation of a temporary platform on the south leafs bascule in preparation of rehabilitation of that span.
On the north leaf, approximately 95 percent of the existing components have been cleaned and primed; some areas have also been painted. Painting work has been stopped for the winter and will resume when structural repairs, stringer and grating deck installation are completed. During the cleaning process, 10 55-gallon drums of rust and paint chips were removed from the north and south spans. Mechanical work to various components of bridge machinery continues to be repaired off-site.
This project is continuing on schedule, [Freeholder John] Arnone said. This winter, so far, has been relatively mild so that work crews have been able to keep working schedule and we are proceeding toward an on-time re-opening prior to Memorial Day weekend.
The repairs are expected to extend the life of the bridge, built in 1939, by about eight years. In the interim, plans for a replacement structure, which may include a controversial fixed-span bridge 65 feet above the river, are in the works.