For Immediate Release:
May 18, 2012
Oceanic Bridge reopens; weight restriction lifted
As promised, span reopens before Memorial Day Weekend
FREEHOLD, NJ – The Oceanic Bridge (S-31) spanning the Navesink River between Rumson and Middletown re-opened today, ahead of schedule and one week prior to Memorial Day Weekend.
The opening follows completion of extensive work to rehabilitate the bridge’s 100-foot, center bascule span, allowing motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians to resume normal use of the bridge.
“This is a historic day, and one we all have been looking forward to,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Thomas A. Arnone, liaison to the county’s Department of Public Works and Engineering. “The seven-month closure was difficult to endure, but it was necessary. Today we are pleased to give residents and commuters a rehabilitated bascule span that will safely serve their needs until a new bridge is built.”
The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders thanked Senator Joe Kyrillos Jr. for helping to advance this interim repair project and for his involvement in seeing it through to full replacement. These interim repairs were 100 percent funded using the state Transportation Trust Fund.
“This is a happy day, and I am very glad that this day has come,” Kyrillos said. “This bridge is an intersection for a lot of people and it makes a real difference in their quality of life. But we’re doing what we need to do to keep things safe, to make sure that at the end of the day it’s not only about convenience or quality of life – we want this to be safe for our citizens.”
With the reconstructed bascule span, the weight limit on the bridge was restored to 15 tons, which means school buses, emergency vehicles and some commercial vehicles will once again be able to travel across the bridge, ending the lengthy detours that have been in place since October 2011.
The re-opening was attended by state, county and local officials, as well as local residents and the Friends of the Oceanic Bridge Association, which has been working to ensure that the replacement for the Oceanic Bridge preserves the aesthetic and environmental character of the existing structure
“Our intention is to make sure the views are maintained to their fullest,” Freeholder Deputy Director John P. Curley said. “We are very aware of the wishes of the local residents. We have listened to you and we will do everything possible to protect the beauty of this region.”
The rehabilitation work on the double-leaf bascule span entailed the removal of the existing grid deck and construction of a new grid deck. Rehabilitation or removal and replacement of stringers, floor beams, supporting steelwork and a catwalk was part of the contract as well. An extensive rust removal project was completed and all metal areas were sanded, primed and painted.
To accommodate marine traffic, one section of the bridge’s span was kept in the upright position throughout the project. The work required the bridge to be closed to all but marine traffic.
The mayors of Rumson and Middletown said they were pleased to have the bridge open, and they commended the freeholders on the work that was done.
“This is a perfect example of government efficiency and great leadership,” Middletown Mayor Anthony P. Fiore said. “I thank the freeholders and Sen. Kyrillos for realizing the importance this bridge has to the economic vitality of the region.”
“Today is the exact day the freeholders told us back in October that the bridge would be opening,” Rumson Mayor John E. Ekdahl said. “We thank the freeholders for holding to that date. I encourage all of you to patronize the businesses on both sides of the bridge that we all love so much.”
Originally, the county’s consultant engineers had recommended complete replacement of the steel bascule spans; however, the county’s Department of Public Works and Engineering decided to retain the services of Pennoni Associates Inc. of Philadelphia to employ the latest information and sensor technology to evaluate the actual stresses at various points on the bridge.
“The replacement of the entire bascule span would have cost $8 million and a bridge closure of at least 18 months,” Arnone said. “Thanks to the sensor monitoring and analyses that were performed, it was determined that the span could be rehabilitated for $3.5 million and a bridge closure of seven months.”
“That data convinced the county’s engineers that rehabilitation of the existing bascule span was possible and the most cost-effective solution,” Freeholder Lillian G. Burry said. “This interim repair work will extend the life of the Oceanic Bridge at least another 10 years, at which time we hope we will be making preparations to build an entirely new bridge in its place.”
The bridge was shut down to vehicular and pedestrian traffic in mid-October of last year, with a promise from the freeholders that the work would be completed prior to the start of Memorial Day Weekend 2012. In the weeks leading up to today’s opening, critical testing and span balancing were performed to guarantee smooth operation of the span.
“We were very pleased with the contractor’s diligence and timely execution of the work, and we were very fortunate that the weather cooperated,” Freeholder Gary J. Rich Jr. said. “Work on several bridge elements were done simultaneously to limit the length of time the bridge was closed. Parts were taken out of service, repaired and then reinstalled in phases.”
“It is so nice to once again be able to get from Middletown to Rumson without going through the extensive detours,” Freeholder Serena DiMaso said. “I am hoping for nice weather in the months ahead so the businesses and residents can get back to normal and enjoy their summer.”
The contractor for this project is the Iron Bridge Group, Inc. of North Brunswick. Inspection and contract administration were performed by Hardesty and Hanover of Hoboken. The project had a total contract amount of $3,554,380.
Arnone commended County Engineer Joseph M. Ettore and John W. Tobia, director of the county Department of Public Works and Engineering, for their work overseeing this project. Additional information about the Oceanic Bridge is available on the county Web site at www.visitmonmouth.com.
# # #