By JOHN T. WARD
Previously unseen deterioration on the Oceanic Bridge between Rumson and Middletown will require a full shutdown of the span for three weeks following Memorial Day, Monmouth County reported Wednesday.
Beginning Tuesday, May 26, the 76-year-old bridge will be closed to all but marine traffic as crews lift the steel bascule in order to access and replace bearings, county Freeholder Thomas Arnone said in a prepared statement.
Repair work underway for the past month that was scheduled to wrap up on Thursday has “revealed deterioration in two areas not readily or previously accessible,” said Arnone, liaison to the Department of Public Works and Engineering.
“The nature of the work repair requires that the bridge load be relieved by lifting the bascule and approach spans off of the bearing,” said county Engineer Joseph Ettore. “To accomplish this, the Oceanic Bridge must be closed to motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic.”
The bridge will be closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic from May 26 through Friday, June 12, the county said. For marine traffic, seasonal rules and scheduling will be in effect.
Arnone said the county had worked with the contractor, local officials and business leaders to “set a schedule that gets this work done prior to the height of the tourism season.”
“Our concern was that if the work began in mid-May, it would not be completed for the Memorial Day weekend,” he said Arnone. “The post-Memorial Day around-the-clock work schedule reflects a mid-June completion date.”
From the statement:
“It is prudent to lift the bridge spans and perform the repairs to all four of the bearings,” said Ettore. “The bearings in need of immediate repair are on the eastern side of the bridge, but the County is also going to repair the bearings on the western side of the bridge.”
“The limits of the additional deterioration were unknown when the project began and have become evident during the cleaning and preparation process for the repairs as originally planned,” said Ettore. “The bearing work must be completed to maintain public safety and the use of the Oceanic Bridge.”
The County has authorized Harms Construction Co. Inc. of Howell to continue work on the structure that spans the Navesink River and connects Rumson to Middletown. Harms crews will be working 24 hours a day, in two -12 hour shifts, to have the work completed by June 12.
The Board of Chosen Freeholders authorized $653,650 for the repairs at its April 24 meeting.
The announcement said that preparation work in advance of the job may require full overnight closures of the bridge, weather permitting, from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. as follows:
• Wednesday, May 13 through Friday, May 15
• Monday, May 18 through Thursday, May 21
The bridge will be open to all traffic from Friday May 22 through Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, according to the announcement.
The county plans to replace the bridge in the next ten years.