As promised, work completed before Memorial Day Weekend 

FREEHOLD, NJ – The Oceanic Bridge (S-31) spanning the Navesink River between Rumson and Middletown will reopen mid-morning on Friday, May 18.

The opening, which follows completion of extensive work to rehabilitate the bridge’s 100-foot, center bascule span, will allow motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians to resume use of the bridge. The announcement comes as promised before the start of the Memorial Day Weekend.

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“This repair work extends the usable life of this 72-year-old bridge,” Freeholder Deputy Director Thomas A. Arnone said. “This 2,752-foot bridge that connects Rumson and Middletown needs a full replacement, but these repairs were necessary to guarantee public safety and extend the use of this bridge until plans for a new bridge are approved.”

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 the largest drawbridge in Monmouth County, serving more than 12,000 motorists a day,” Kyrillos said. “These interim repairs will allow the county to not only open and use the bridge until its eventual replacement, but it also restores the 15-ton weight limit. That means school buses, emergency vehicles and some commercial vehicles will be allowed to once again traverse this half-mile span.”

The rehabilitation work on the double-leaf bascule span included 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.

“It is never an easy decision to close a major transportation artery, but the condition of the bascule span demanded it,” Freeholder Director John P. Curley said. “Public safety is our No. 1 concern and we are happy to give the residents a restored structure that will carry them to their destinations in a secure manner. I thank the surrounding residents for their patience during this reconstruction period.”

Originally, the county’s consultant engineers had recommended the 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. 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 approximately $8 million and a bridge closure of at least 18 months,” Arnone said. “But thanks to the sensor monitoring and analyses that were performed, it was determined that the span could be rehabilitated at a cost of just $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.

“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.”

In the weeks leading up to Friday’s opening, critical testing and span balancing were performed to guarantee smooth operation of the span.

“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.

Additional information about the Oceanic Bridge is available on the county Web site at www.visitmonmouth.com