|New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife|
June 12, 2002
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife recently completed efforts to place a demolished section of the old Ocean City-Longport Toll Bridge on the Ocean City Artificial Reef located five miles offshore of Corson's Inlet. The portion of the bridge, consisting of concrete piers and steel roadway spans, was transported to the reef to become a 50-acre fish habitat and fishing ground. In addition, a 500-foot section of the old bridge on the northern Longport side of the channel was left in place and will soon become a bay fishing pier.
"The old Ocean City-Longport Toll Bridge was always a good place to fish for striped bass and weakfish,"said Division Director Bob McDowell. "Fish congregated around the concrete pilings and anglers fished for them day and night. During 2001 and 2002, the old drawbridge was torn down and a new, raised-span bridge replaced it. However, the fish-producing days of the old bridge are not over."
As the former bridge was dismantled, large chunks of concrete and steel beams were loaded onto deck barges. Between February and May, 10 barge loads of concrete and steel, totaling about 15,000 tons, were transported to the Ocean City Reef site. Once at the site, the barge was anchored and the material was dropped overboard with an excavator. Kiewit/Tidewater Construction Company demolished the old bridge and constructed the new span.
The concrete and steel now resting at a depth of 60 feet on the sandy sea floor will soon be colonized by mussels, barnacles, sponges, coral and a host of other marine life. Fish such as sea bass, blackfish, porgy and fluke will move into their new home this summer. The old bridge, in pieces on the ocean bottom, will continue to serve anglers for decades to come.
Since 1984, the State's Artificial Reef Program has constructed more than 1,800 reefs on 14 ocean sites along the New Jersey coast. The objectives of the program are to develop hard-substrate habitat for fish and other marine life, establish new fishing grounds for anglers and provide underwater attractions for scuba divers.