County remains hopeful road will be opened for July 4 weekend, depending on water company’s response

MIDDLETOWN, NJ – A broken 12-inch water line near – but not related to – an ongoing county repair of a culvert along the westerly portion of Navesink River Road has flooded the worksite.

Damage has been compounded because NJ American Water Co., which owns the water line, failed to immediately notify the county of the break, which happened about midnight Sunday. Even though water company crews were on the scene since about 1 a.m. Monday, the county did not learn about it until county crews reported for work at the site Monday morning.

Freeholder John P. Curley, liaison to the county’s Department of Public Works and Engineering, which is doing the work in-house, has requested county counsel to review the matter and evaluate the county’s available recourse. This is the second delay caused by a broken water main.

“Had Monmouth County been contacted immediately, our crews may have been able to mitigate the damage to the county’s worksite,” Curley said. “I expect NJ-American Water Co. to employ all of its resources and work around the clock, if necessary, so that the county can get back on track to reopen this road by the July 4 weekend, as anticipated.”

John W. Tobia, director of Public Works and Engineering, estimated the project may be set back one to three days, but he remains hopeful the road will be reopened for vehicular traffic by July 2.

The water company was unable to completely stop the flow of water until Monday afternoon and were working to restore water service to area residents. County crews are clearing dirt and debris that was washed into an already excavated work site.

This is not the first incident involving NJ-American Water to cause a delay. Faulty mark-outs by the water company last month caused a 12-inch water main and a 24-inch water main to be broken. Last night’s break occurred more than 500 feet from the culvert.

County crews have two 12-foot section of pipe remaining to be installed before the project can be finished. However, that work can be accomplished after the road is reopened. While there will be no detours, resident can expect lane closures during non-commuting hours.

Heavy rains in March had caused a culvert running under Navesink River Road to collapse, forcing the closure of the road between Route 35 and Hubbard Avenue.

The county’s bridge and road crews are performing the work in-house, alleviating the expense and the time it would take to go out for public bidding to hire a private contractor. Despite the delays, the county project will be completed more expeditiously and with a cost savings.

Navesink River Road adjacent to Poricy Brook Pond serves as an earthen dam with two pipes running underneath. As the height of the pond rose, it put pressure and velocity on the water passing underneath the road, undermining the supporting soil and unsettling the road. Water drains from Poricy Brook Pond to Swimming River farther south.

The damaged pipes were 50 years old and constructed of corrugated steel pipes 60 inches in diameter. They were side by side under the road. Those pipes are being replaced with concrete pipes and improved fortification which will be stronger and is expected to last longer .

For now, Navesink River Road will remain closed to vehicular traffic. Pedestrian access through the site will be allowed at all times due to the proximity of the River Plaza Elementary School.

Motorists traveling from the north on Navesink River Road detour onto Route 35 south, traverse Cooper’s Bridge into Red Bank and over the West Front Street bridge to Hubbard Avenue and then back to Navesink River Road. Motorists traveling from the south have to take Nut Swamp Road to Middletown-Lincroft Road to Oak Hill Road to Route 35.