It’s news that those of us living in the Two River area have anxiously awaited. The Oceanic Bridge, which connects Rumson and Middletown over the Navesink River, is opening sooner than anticipated — mid-morning on Friday, May 18.
A grand re-opening ceremony will also take place in Rumson near the bridge, with a ribbon cutting by Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl on May 21 at 4 p.m., rain or shine.
Recently Monmouth County Engineer Joseph Ettore told Patch that due to the good weather, he anticipated the opening to come before Memorial Day, perhaps sooner. The sooner has become a reality.
The drawbridge part, or 98-foot moveable bascule span, of the bridge was deteriorating and in urgent need of repair. A complete revamp of the 2,752-foot-long, 72-year-old art deco style drawbridge will come in the next couple of years.
Until then, "this repair work extends the usable life of this bridge," Freeholder Deputy Director Thomas A. Arnone said in a released statement. The extension of the life of the bridge is critical, he added, since its permanent replacement is a couple of years away and the plans for it have not yet been approved.
These interim $3.5 million repairs to keep the bridge open prior to its complete replacement were funded completely by the state Department of Transportation’s Transportation Trust Fund.
The Oceanic Bridge is crossed by about 12,000 vehicles a day, Ettore had said. The weight limit for the drawbridge is 15 tons, which it could not handle in the corroded state.
So, for safety’s sake, the temporary fix of what is called the bascule span (the moveable part) was necessary due to the extreme corrosion.
It “must be safe enough to last until its (permanent entire bridge) replacement. If the drawbridge (section) is not repaired now, it will fail and we must close it," Ettore had said at a forum on the bridge replacement. "We are at the absolute minimum weight (tonnage of crossing that the bridge can support) of 3 tons now (optimum weight support is closer to 10 to 15 tons) … our immediate objective is to have a safe and reliable bascule span.”
The work done included: installation of a new grid deck, replacement and rehabilitation of deck support steel, beams and catwalk. Rust was also removed and metal was sanded and repainted.
“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,” Freeholder Lillian G. Burry said in a released statement.