Rumson, NJ — As a crucial deadline approaches, Friends of the
Oceanic Bridge Association, Inc., a grassroots organization started in 2004, is
encouraging immediate community support for convincing the US Coast Guard to lower
the current height requirement for a new bridge from a 65-foot mean high water (MHW)
clearance to a 50-foot MHW clearance. The new Oceanic Bridge, which replaces the
current bascule (draw) bridge will probably be a fixed-span structure.
“This is a very important local project and residents on both sides of the river deserve to
have their opinions heard on this matter,” says Todd Thompson, President of Friends of
the Oceanic Bridge.“A 15-foot height reduction may not sound like much but it
represents a 30-percent decrease, which will have a significant impact on the aesthetics
of the structure and how people use the bridge, which will be more than twice as high as
the current bridge.”
On July 12, 2021 the US Coast Guard published Public Notice 1-187 on the USCG
Navigation Center website ( navcen.uscg.gov/DIBN). At that time, the Coast Guard
requested that all interested parties (mariners and the general public) “…express their
views, in writing, on the proposed bridge project, giving sufficient detail to establish a
clear understanding of their reasons for support of or opposition to the proposed work.”
“This bridge is likely to be with us the rest of our lives,” he adds. “If you have an opinion,
the Coast Guard is listening and you deserve to be heard—and you can do that through
an email.”
Comments should be sent to [email protected] Written comments can also be
sent by mail to Commander (DPB), First Coast Guard District, Battery Park Building, 1
South Street, New York, NY 10004-1466. The comment period closes on August 13th,
2021.
The project can be reviewed at monmouthcountytoceanicbridge.com. Because the
bridge will be funded by the federal government, Monmouth County has been working
with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) for the last several
years. In the fall of 2020, Monmouth County officials and the NJTPA asked for public
comments on their Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA) for a replacement of the
Oceanic Bridge.

“Over 85 percent of the respondents rejected the idea of a towering, fixed-span bridge,”
he says. “These public comments have not gained traction yet, it seems, and the
present Preliminary Preferred Alternative has 65 feet of clearance.”

Friends of the Oceanic Bridge would prefer a 45-foot MHW clearance drawbridge—as
97 percent of current the boat traffic would be able to pass underneath it without it
opening. However, the federal government is disinclined to fund a drawbridge where a
fixed-span bridge can be built. As a result, Friends along with Monmouth County are
proposing a 50-foot MHW clearance fixed-span bridge, which would allow 98 percent of
local boats to pass underneath.

A 50-foot bridge would also lower the grade by more than a third, from 5 percent to
about 3 percent, which would be much safer for pedestrians and cyclists, Thompson
points out.

“The Oceanic Bridge needs to be replaced and the project must move forward,” he
says. “The designer of the bridge back in the ’30s, Morris Goodkind, was greatly
admired for his ability to combine aesthetics and functionality into his spans.
Unfortunately, we may never see another bridge with the subtle elegance of the
Oceanic…but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a say in its replacement.”
For more information on Friends of the Oceanic Bridge, go to
friendsoftheoceanicbridge.org or visit the organization’s Facebook page. For more
information on the Oceanic Bridge project, go to monmouthcountytoceanicbridge.com.


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