RED BANK — With the Oceanic Bridge currently under construction, and the Sea Bright-Rumson bridge being considered for work in the near future, county engineers now are turning their attention to the West Front Street Bridge–much to the appreciation of Mayor Pasquale Menna.
Monmouth County Engineer Joseph Ettore and Jon Moren, the county’s principal bridge engineer and project manager, appeared before the governing body on Wednesday Feb. 22 l to explain what is going to be done on the bridge that links Red Bank to the River Plaza section of Middletown, across the Swimming River.
This project will be completely funded by federal transportation dollars, Ettore said, noting that the project is expected to cost between $12 and $12.5 million.
The county-owned and maintained two-lane bridge, S-17, dates back to 1921 and is approximately 340 feet long, according to county information. It underwent some emergency repairs in 2004 when workers installed a deck replacement because it had become so deteriorated.
Following that work, county engineers and state transportation officials conducted some additional scoping work to determine what should be done to the badly aging bridge.
Red Bank officials had reservations about what was being proposed at that time. For one thing, said Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels, the bridge that was originally proposed was to have a sidewalk on only one side, which the borough opposed because of the amount of foot traffic on the west side.
The new bridge proposal calls for six-foot sidewalks on each side and will comply with federal handicap access requirements. The new design also includes a four-foot shoulder on the approach to the bridge, allowing pedestrian and bicycle access, the engineers said.
Those working on this project, Menna said, have remedied the the boroug’s original concerns. “Most of all,” Menna added, “I want to thank you for having someone pay for us.”
And because the new bridge will be constructed alongside the existing bridge, the amount of time that traffic will have to be diverted will be minimal.
Construction would be about 18 month to two years. “The actual closure of the bridge won’t happen until very late in the process,” Ettore said, estimating that won’t happen until late in 2014.
County engineers are hoping to, “minimize the disruption to the businesses,” Ettore said, noting that the bridge would be closed to traffic for three or four months.
The architecture of the bridge will be consistent with the area. “We think of this as a landmark,” Ettore added.
The project will likely mean the county will have to acquire a small amount of private property. Representatives have been negotiating with the property owners, as the county has an official policy of “willing seller, willing buyer negotiation,” according to Ettore.
County engineers plan to advertise bids for the contract by fall 2012, with construction beginning in late winter 2012 or spring 2013.
County officials are planning to conduct a public hearing on the proposal sometime in April, which will probably take place in the borough municipal complex on Monmouth Street.
Menna commended the engineers for retooling the project to minimize borough concerns. “They actually spent time and listened to us,” he said afterwards.