New Mantoloking bridge expected to be done in ’05


New Mantoloking bridge
expected to be done in ’05

BRICK — Construction on the new Mantoloking Bridge is progressing smoothly, despite a scrap metal shortage and the sometimes challenging weather conditions and boat traffic on Barnegat Bay, officials said last week.

The Ocean County Board of Freeholders joined with the New Jersey State Marine Police on June 22 to provide a boat excursion on Barnegat Bay, giving media representatives and officials from Brick, Mantoloking and Ocean County a bird’s-eye view of the construction site.

"With work moving along as it is, we look forward to its completion next year," said Freeholder James Lacey.

Officials estimated that contractor J.H. Reid, South Plainfield, has lost 26 working days due to a lack of scrap metal for the project.

"Due to the amazing growth of China’s economy, there has been a shortage of structural steel," said Ocean County Engineer Frank Scarantino. "The cost has skyrocketed and the availability has decreased."

But both Scarantino and Ted Pinca, resident engineer with the bridge’s design firm HNTB, Wayne, are confident that the lost work days can be made up during construction. Pinca also said the changing wind direction, tide and boat traffic can make construction more challenging for workers who are accustomed to building projects on land.

Since construction began in December 2003, two steel cofferdams have been con­structed, which will allow J.H. Reid to pour the cement foundation of the span’s east and west piers. In addition, 21 piles toward the west abutment have been driven into the bottom of the bay.

On June 22, workers were expected to pave the footing on Pier 7 and to drive a test pile into Pier 5. When completed, 55 concrete filled piles will be grouped to form 11 piers, each with five piles.

The new bridge will be 49 feet wide and feature two 12-foot-wide lanes for traffic, two 8-foot-wide bicycle compatible shoulders and one 6-foot-wide sidewalk that runs along the south side of the bridge. The new span will double the clearance over the boating channel from 15 to 30 feet, and will have an 80-foot-wide channel, compared to the existing dual 30-feet channels.

Because of the height of the new bridge, officials estimate that more than 75 percent of all boats will be able to pass beneath the bridge without the need to open it, cutting the annual number of bridge openings from 6,000 to 2,000. A hydraulic lift will be used to open the new bridge, as opposed to the gear mechanisms that are currently in use.

"It’s an innovative improvement in de­sign that is in use in Florida successfully," Pinca added.

The new bridge, used to connect Brick Township with the barrier island, will be the third at the site. The first bridge, constructed in 1883, ran to Bridge Street in Mantoloking. The second, built in 1938, ended at Herbert Street, which is also where the new bridge will end.

The 1938 bridge has experienced structural and operational problems that come from age and use, and recently, officials placed a 4-ton weight limit on the vehicles that can pass over it. The existing bridge will remain open to automobile traffic and boat traffic beneath it throughout the construction of the new bridge.

Lt. Harold Vliet from the New Jersey State Marine Police said police boats will be stationed under the center span of the bridge to funnel all traffic through it. Pre­viously, vessel traffic was permitted to pass under the bridge through all the spans.

Vliet said it might be necessary to stop traffic in one direction if clogs develop, es­pecially as the heart of the summer season occurs.

The project is expected to be completed in December 2005, and the bridge should be operational by spring 2006.