Oceanic Bridge Replacement Plan Slows

July 29, 2018
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By Jay Cook | 

The Oceanic Bridge is Monmouth County’s longest bridge and also one of the oldest. After years of patchwork, it’s set to be replaced within the next decade. But a holdup has pushed that timeline back. Photo by Jay Cook

RUMSON – Residents in the borough and Middletown will have to wait longer for the eventual replacement of the Oceanic Bridge.

County officials were hoping to receive word on a preferred design choice this spring but red tape has slowed that down.

A navigational impact report prepared by Monmouth County was submitted to the United States Coast Guard last fall to seek guidance for vertical clearances on new bridge options, said Monmouth County Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone.

“At this point, we have not received our guidance from the U.S. Coast Guard and are therefore behind the anticipated schedule,” Arnone wrote in an email to The Two River Times.

But that report is still under review, said Chris Bisignano, the bridge branch chief of the First Coast Guard District.

“It’s pretty involved,” Bisignano said Tuesday. “If the information in the report is insufficient we may have to put out a public notice to request more information.”

This means Monmouth County – which is working with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) to find options for the Oceanic Bridge’s replacement – will have to be patient as they wait for word on what to do with the structurally deteriorating bridge. Construction was already set to begin in the 2020s.

A preliminary preferred alternative was supposed to be announced in the winter/spring of 2018. A draft concept development report and the completion of the local concept development phase were supposed to be completed by the end of this summer.

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The NJTPA granted Monmouth County $600,000 in 2016 to begin a local concept development phase.

County and regional engineering staffs met with Rumson and Middletown residents over the past three years to gather input about what replacement to the circa 1939 bridge they’d like to see.

Past reports from the county have whittled the solution down to two realistic possibilities. The first is a fixed span bridge, similar to the Route 36 bridge connecting Highlands and Sea Bright over the Shrewsbury River. The other choice could be a drawbridge, similar to what’s there now, albeit a more modern version.

There are also a number of different alignment options in play with renderings detailing new western and eastern alignments for the new bridge, as well as changes to the entry points in both Rumson and Middletown.

Coming up on its 80th birthday, the Oceanic Bridge is vital to Monmouth County operations year-round. It’s a coastal evacuation route for low-lying towns along the Atlantic Ocean and the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers. It’s also an important transportation artery which carries hordes of summer time traffic to and from the shore.

The bridge was constructed during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. As Monmouth County’s longest bridge, it spans 2,712 feet from

Rumson to the historic Locust section of Middletown. The bridge has been rated “structurally deficient,” according to MonmouthCountyOceanicBridge.com, a website dedicated to the project. Its superstructure suffers from heavy rust and corrosion.

Its weight limit has been downgraded to 15 tons when it should be carrying 40 tons, Monmouth County engineer Joseph Ettore said earlier this year. Students and staff from Rutgers University were brought on this summer to study its remaining life span using modern technologies.

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Arnone said in March he anticipates the entire project to cost about $130 million. It will be subject to federal funding. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Highway Association will also be involved in the project.


This article was first published in the July 26-Aug.2, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.

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