Ocean County officials are ready to reopen the Bowman Road Bridge here after completing replacing the span that was severely damaged by a hurricane last August.
"We have completed this project ahead of schedule and are very pleased to reopen a better and safer span for the motorists of Jackson Township," said Freeholder James F. Lacey, who serves as freeholder liaison to Ocean County's bridges and roads.
The bridge is scheduled to be reopened to traffic by June 15.
During Hurricane Irene a sinkhole began to appear at the northwest corner of the span and while the hole was filled, the bridge was closed to traffic later on Sept. 1 after a bridge inspector observed that settlement had occurred along the east abutment wall and it appeared that the pile cap had rolled. Further investigation of the span revealed that the storm had pushed so much water through the bridge that it scoured the streambed by about eight feet exposing the abutment sheeting, which was 16-feet long.
The Bowman Road Bridge is a three span timber pile supported bridge originally constructed in 1939 and upgraded in 1971. The replacement is a concrete structure.
Work to replace the span began in January and was to be completed by the start of the new school year in September 2012.
The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders awarded a contract for the project to Lucas Construction Group Inc., Morganville, in the amount of $1,524,192 in December 2011.
"We originally anticipated replacing this span late in 2012," Lacey said. "But the severity of Hurricane Irene and its impact on this structure resulted in us expediting the replacement of the bridge."
The contract called for the work to be completed in nine months. The bridge is surrounded by environmentally sensitive lands controlled by the State, limiting work space and making it necessary to close Bowman Road.
Additionally, because of certain fish spawning and fish maintenance requirements regulated by the state Department of Environmental Protection and Fish and Wildlife, work in the stream was restricted from March 15 through July 1.
"The contractor could not work in the water during that time so it was important to get the work underway and move it along quickly," Lacey said. "The contractor had enough time to install the permanent coffer dams in the water prior to March 15 allowing us to meet the state's requirements and continue work on the span out of the water."
Ocean County officials decided against the original plan to erect a temporary bridge in the area noting it would not provide any real relief to motorists in the area because of the amount of time it would have taken to erect it.
"The road closure allowed us to accelerate the construction of the project giving us the ability to now reopen the span by June 15," said Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little.