By DON STINE
Motorists using the East End Avenue Bridge, crossing the western end of the Shark River between Neptune City and Neptune, should brace for the bridge to be closed for eight months beginning this October.
The bridge, also known as County Bridge M17, crosses the upper (western) section of the Shark River between Neptune’s Shark River Hills area and Neptune City. It will be closed and refurbished beginning this October and scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend of next year.
“It will be a beautiful structure,” Freeholder Thomas Arnone said. Arnone and County Engineer Joe Ettore gave a presentation about the project July 10 before the governing bodies of both towns.
The repairs will be funded through a $3.5 million grant from the state Department of Transportation, which includes a $300,000 contribution from the county for utility changes and upgrades, including the sewer and gas lines.
Arnone said county is taking a “pro-active approach” on addressing infrastructure needs, like bridges.
The bridge’s actual span is 62 feet but, with the two long causeways approaching the bridge, the project will be a total of 891 feet.
Detours, that will be up to 1.8 miles, around the bridge are being planned and traffic patterns and signals at major intersections nearby will be evaluated to improve traffic slow.
Efforts will also be made to relay the project information to local schools and emergency responders.
The bridge was replaced in 1990 but a 2015 study showed increasing deterioration to the bridge that was also affecting the roadway and sidewalks. The project will replace most of the old timber with metal and have new black guardrails and decorative lighting on pylons that will be 75 feet apart. The elevation of the bridge will not change.
“We are looking at long-term rehabilitation,” Ettore said.