RED BANK – Despite the awful winter weather, construction of the West Front Street bridge replacement has remained largely on time and proceeding on schedule.
The estimated $12 million project to replace the bridge, often referred to as Hubbard’s Bridge, which spans the Swimming River and connects Red Bank and Middletown’s River Plaza section, has continued even with the numerous storms and arctic temperatures that marked the 2013-14 winter. Workers have been moving forward with driving in the bridge pilings. But, the weather did take its toll by preventing contractors from being able to pour concrete due to the extended period of cold weather, according to Laura Kirkpatrick, director of Monmouth County’s Office of Public Information and Tourism.
The severe cold caused the workers to have to wait before they could use concrete to set the pier piles. But with a break in the weather beginning the week of March 17, workers were able to do the work, securing two of the five bridge piers; the two others were set with concrete in early April, Kirkpatrick said in an email outlining the work’s progress.
Pier 1 on the bridge’s western abutment will be set with concrete by the end of this month, she said.
Once the pile driving work has been completed on the east side, the pile driving will begin across the river, Kirkpatrick said.
The contractor has been able to complete the excavation of the west cofferdam, placed in the river to allow work below water level.
The excavation work on the bridge’s eastern abutment on the Red Bank side has been completed. The installation of concrete-filled steel pipe piles is ongoing and is expected to be finished by the end of April. Demolition on the Red Bank side of the Swimming River and clearing of 3 Rector Place, at the corner of West Front and Rector, has finished. Soil excavation and removal of the property’s retaining walls are continuing.
While traffic does tend to snarl along the heavily traveled road – especially during morning and evening rush hours – Kirkpatrick said the existing bridge will remain open as the new bridge is built adjacent to the old one.
The bridge, however, will be closed to all traffic – vehicular and foot – from January through May 2015. At that point workers will connect the newly erected bridge to the Middletown and Red Bank shorelines. Traffic will have to be detoured around the site to allow the work to finish, she said.
The two-lane county bridge, S-17, is about 340 feet and was originally constructed in 1921. The aging and rusting steel structure has undergone some emergency renovations in 2004, but county engineers and state transportation officials determined it needed to be replaced and plans were drafted for a new one.
The project, which began in September, is slated for completion in May 2015.
The bridge has an average daily traffic flow of more than 17,000 vehicles, according to Monmouth County engineering department.
The project is being completely funded by federal transportation dollars.