Story and photo by Jay Cook |
MIDDLETOWN – Up to $4 million in repairs will be needed to replace a section of Garden State Parkway bridge significantly damaged after a backhoe crashed into the structure earlier this month.
On Nov. 21, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) authorized a $3 million construction contract with Howell-based George Harms Construction Company Inc. The money will go towards immediate repairs and a new bridge deck construction at a later date.
The board also authorized a pair of $500,000 contracts with HNTB Corporation and Gannett Fleming, Inc. to provide engineering services for the new section of bridge.
On the afternoon of Nov. 2, a flatbed truck hauling a backhoe traveling south on Middletown-Lincroft Rd. struck a northbound Garden State Parkway outer roadway bridge just north of Exit 109, said NJTA spokesman Tom Feeney. A series of four bridges in that location have a clearance of 13 feet 7 inches.
Det. Lt. Paul Bailey said on Wednesday the flatbed was operated by JBH Paving, based out of Wall and Jackson. He said the collision was due to an improper loading of equipment.
Feeney said the accident caused “significant damage” to a pair of steel beams underneath the bridge deck, resulting in the impending construction.
“When we have bridges struck, with damages that cause a repair bill like this is, it’s pretty rare, but not totally unheard of,” Feeney said.
Emergency work by the NJTA from Nov. 3 through Nov. 5 closed Middletown-Lincroft Road between West Front Street and Nut Swamp Road and one lane on the Garden State Parkway northbound for repairs for temporary beams. Now both roadways are currently fully open to traffic, but a visible indentation on the bridge shows where the backhoe struck.
Feeney said there’s no timetable yet, but the section of damaged bridge will have to be taken out and completely replaced with a new piece of bridge deck and associated beams. He said it would be built off-site and then shipped to Middletown.
The work will happen during a “high-intensity construction cycle” from a Friday night to a Monday morning, Feeney said. It would include shutting down a lane on the parkway, as well as likely closing traffic along Middletown-Lincroft Road, which is a county roadway.
“There’s a real advantage to build the bridge off-site and do it through one weekend rather than stringing the pain out for many weeks or more,” Feeney said.
This article was first published in the Nov. 30-Dec. 7, 2017 print edition of the Two River Times.
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