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POLL: Oceanic Bridge to Open Early?

Monmouth County Engineer Joseph Ettore says work on the moveable span is on schedule.

The is Middletown and Rumson residents have been eager to cross for months now.  And that day is coming soon.

The question is, after six months of it being closed to traffic for repairs in unusually good weather, does that mean it will open ahead of its Memorial Day target?

Maybe, maybe not, Monmouth County Engineer Joseph Ettore told Patch.

“We’re at a critical phase of testing electrical and mechanical work to ensure the operation of the bridge will be optimum and all is running smoothly,” he said. “The structure has been reassessed almost entirely. We’re pleased with the contractor and grateful for the good weather. I know we’re on schedule but could not predict if that could mean opening early.”

The work on the 98-foot moveable span of the 1940s art deco style drawbridge was intentionally scheduled for off-peak crossing months, from Oct. 17 until Memorial Day, Ettore said.

“It was done to ensure that it re-opens before peak season, from Memorial Day on,” he added. “The schedule was reasonable, but aggressive.”

He explained that the type of work that needed to be done to repair the drawbridge was “labor intensive” and had to be done “in the field.”

“It’s time consuming work, such as the drilling of fixed steel, that can only be done on site,” Ettore said.

The temporary fix of what is called the bascule span (the moveable part) was necessary, as it was corroding and in dire shape, the engineer said. Since it could be a couple of years until the permanent bridge replacement starts, it had to be addressed now. So far the county has spent $1.3 million of an estimated $3.5 million on repairs essential to keeping it open.

It “must be safe enough to last until its (permanent entire bridge) replacement. If the drawbridge (section) is not repaired now, it will fail and we must close it," Ettore had said at a public forum on the bridge replacement in September. "We are at the absolute minimum weight (tonnage of crossing that the bridge can support) of 3 tons now (optimum weight support is closer to 10 to 15 tons) … our immediate objective is to have a safe and reliable bascule span.”

For more information on the entire 

Ettore could only give Patch a definite on the fact that the bridge will be open for traffic to and from Middletown and Rumson by Memorial Day. But, what do you think? Will it be sooner? Vote in our unofficial poll below. Tell us in the comments section what route you have taken instead over the past several months.

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