A digital sign at the Rumson foot of the Oceanic Bridge said it would be closed "on or about Jan. 7" for three weeks to install slated safety upgrades. And, "on" Jan. 7 it is.
The upgrades, which county officials said include new barrier gates and security cameras, have been scheduled for some time now and have nothing to do with a recent embankment mudslide that became reason for a separate closure until a few days ago.
And while the contractor, IEW Construction Group, is installing the upgrades, county officials said the closure will be used as a "maximized opportunity" to also fix any damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy.
“This work is required because the existing equipment is outdated and replacement parts are becoming more difficult to find,” Monmouth County Engineer Joseph M. Ettore said in a released statement. “We are maximizing this scheduled closure to have county crews perform repair work to damage caused by Superstorm Sandy and to provide NJ Natural Gas with access for their necessary repair and installation work."
From now until Jan. 28, the span, while closed to all vehicular and pedestrian traffic, will continue to be open to marine traffic.
The 98-foot moveable span of the 2,754-foot-long historic art deco bridge that connects Rumson and Middletown underwent a major $3.5 million revamp recently and closed for seven months, reopening in May 2012.
Work on what is called the bascule (moveable) span 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.
The bridge is traversed by an estimated 12,000 vehicles a day. The funding for the fix came from the state Department of Transportation's Transportation Trust Fund.
County officials said the new safety upgrade work is being done in the winter so as not to cause more traffic tie-ups in the busier summer months.
During the seven-month closure for the major repairs, Rumson officials estimated a 30 percent drop in business due to detours.
“During this project, all vehicle traffic is being diverted east or west (see below),” said Freeholder Deputy Director Thomas A. Arnone, liaison to the county’s Department of Public Works and Engineering. “Motorists should use the signed detours and anticipate travel delays during this time. We want to keep this bridge in good working order and safe for travelers and the bridge operators.”
Detours for Oceanic Bridge traffic:
All motor vehicle traffic on Bingham Avenue between Rumson and Middletown (CR-8) will be detoured west, through Fair Haven and Red Bank to Middletown, or east, through Sea Bright and Highlands to Middletown.
Northbound traffic from Rumson on Bingham Avenue (CR-8) should detour east through Fair Haven and Red Bank on East River Road (CR-10) to East Front Street to Route 35 North to Navesink River Road (CR-12A) in Middletown.
Or, northbound traffic can detour from Bingham Avenue south, turn left onto Rumson Road (CR-520) to Sea Bright and turn left onto Ocean Avenue (Route 36 North) to Highlands and take the jug handle for Navesink Avenue in Middletown. Follow Navesink Avenue and turn left onto Locust Avenue and left again onto Locust Point Road (CR-8B).
Southbound traffic from Middletown should detour west on Navesink River Road (CR-12A) to Route 35 South in Red Bank. And then will follow detour signs to travel west on East Front Street (CR10)/ East River Road through Fair Haven and into Rumson.
Or, southbound traffic can detour from Navesink River Road (CR-12A)/ Locust Point Road (CR-8B) and turn right onto Locust Avenue, turning right onto Navesink Avenue and then bear right onto Route 36 South through Highlands and into Sea Bright. Turn right onto the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge and follow Rumson Road (CR-520) west to Bingham Avenue. Turn right onto Bingham Avenue (CR-8).