TOWNSENDS INLET BRIDGE SPANS 1 – 7 REPLACEMENT
SEA ISLE CITY, NEW JERSEY -- The Ocean Drive (CR619) Bridge over Townsends Inlet, also referred to as the “Townsends Inlet Bridge” is set to close Monday September 17th to begin the replacement of seven spans on the Avalon end of the bridge. The nearly 80-year old bridge is scheduled to reopen just prior to Memorial Day weekend in 2019.
At their July 10, 2018 Meeting, the Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders awarded Agate Construction Company, Inc, Clermont, NJ, an $8,567,647.20 construction contract for the seven (7) spans replacement project. Agate Construction was the lowest of six (6) bids received for the project. The highest bid received was for $14,738,740.40.
This construction contract is the result of the conditions encountered last year when the bridge was closed for three (3) months for emergency repairs to pilings at Pier 6 on the Avalon end of the bridge. When divers were inspecting the bridge to gather information for what was then planned to be a substructure repair project, they discovered a steel H-pile that was broken. This discovery led to the immediate closure of the bridge and initiating emergency repairs.
The emergency repairs required the re-evaluation of the planned substructure rehabilitation project and it was determined to be more effective to completely replace the spans due to the severe deterioration of the pilings and steel superstructure within these spans.
The initial work under the contract consists of the demolishing the south abutment and the first 7 spans on the Avalon end of the bridge. Approximately 245 feet of the 1,373-foot long, 27-span bridge is slated to be replaced. The reinforced concrete decks, steel railing and stringers will be the first items removed. The concrete and steel pilings will be either be completely removed or removed to a depth of at least three (3) feet below the mudline. Once the old pilings have been removed, the riprap stone that has been placed over the years since 1962 will need to be relocated from area where the new piers are to be constructed. The riprap stone was placed to reduce the erosion of the inlet bottom near the bridge. It is imperative that the riprap stones be removed from the area because the new piers will require installing 60-inch diameter piles up to 157 feet in length.
Four (4) new spans will be replacing the seven (7) spans be demolished. Three of the new spans will be consist of prestressed concrete beams and the fourth span will contain steel stringers to facilitate the connection into the existing bridge. The new concrete beam spans will be longer than the old 35-foot steel stringer spans, varying in length from 75 feet to 100 feet.
The southern end of the bridge is a popular fishing spot, though prohibited due to safety concerns associated with the existing narrow walkways. While the roadway on the new spans will be the same as the existing bridge, the sidewalks will be increased from 2 feet to 6 feet wide to 6 feet wide. The new south abutment is to be relocated just to the south of the existing abutment.
Agate Construction anticipates having the bridge demolished and ready for the installation of the piers in November. They are anticipating beginning to set the new beams and stringers sometime in January. Agate Construction anticipates working, when efficient, two (2) shifts per day from 6am to 10pm and, if necessary, some Saturdays to complete the project.
To facilitate the construction, Ocean Drive in Avalon will be closed from the southern end of the seawall near Fourth Avenue to the Townsends Inlet Bridge and this area will be use as staging for the storage of equipment and materials for the project.
Most of the demolition and construction activity will be performed using floating equipment. However, the construction is occurring outside the navigational channel and therefore will not interfere with marine traffic.
The project required various permits from US Army Corps of Engineers and NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) along with approvals from US Coast Guard. The project has an in-water work restriction that runs from March 1st until June 30th, therefore the contractor needs to complete all work in the water by February 28, 2019. As part of NJDEP permit conditions, the County is required to mitigate the impacts to wetlands and to shellfish habitat. 1,265 square feet of wetlands mitigation credits, worth $15,225, were purchased from the Stipson’s Island Mitigation Bank, owned and operated by Evergreen Environmental, LLC, Wayne, PA. and another $1,880 is to go to NJDEP Shellfish Mitigation Habitat account.
NJDEP Historic Presentation Office also noted that the Townsends Inlet Bridge is eligible for listing on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Place because the bridge is a monument to the Depression-era New Deal Programs to improve America’s infrastructure and it is a well-preserved representative example of the most common movable bridge type in the Jersey Shore region. Due to its historic significance, the existing conditions of the bridge had to photographed and documented in the Historic American Engineering Record standards and an interpretive sign installed that relates the significance of the Townsends Inlet Bridge. The documentation had to be completed and approved by the Historic Preservation Office prior to the start of any construction.
The Lebanon, New Jersey office of Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. has provided the engineering services for the design of this project. Remington & Vernick Engineers, Cherry Hill, NJ is providing the construction oversight of the project.
The project is being funded by the County and a $1,000,000 grant from the Local Bridge Future Needs program of the NJ Transportation Trust Fund.
Last spring, Agate Construction completed the Priority Structural Repairs to the 96th Street Bridge in Stone Harbor for Cape May County on time and within budget.
The replacement of the seven (7) spans greatly increases the useful life of the existing bridge, however the bridge will still be considered functionally obsolete due to its narrow roadway width and structurally deficient due to the 15-ton weight restriction. The bridge was designed in 1939 based upon a 17.5-ton truck.
While Agate Construction is working on the southern end of the bridge, other construction projects on the bridge will be occurring concurrently. Thomas Barry Marine Construction, South Dennis, NJ, is scheduled to complete the bridge railing replacement project that involves the section of the bridge on the east side from the north abutment in Sea Isle City to the Tollhouse Span. Delta Line Construction Company, Egg Harbor Township, NJ, will be replacing the submarine cable that provides power and communications to the bridge and traffic signal equipment on the south side of the movable span.
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact this office.