Route 71 bridge over Shark River will be opened to vehicular traffic during busy Memorial Day weekend
Responding to local input, NJDOT adjusts construction schedule
(Trenton) - The New Jersey Department of Transportation today announced that the Route 71/Main Street lift bridge over the Shark River will be in service to accommodate motorists, pedestrians and marine traffic over Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the Jersey Shore summer season.
The bridge, which links Belmar and Avon-By-The-Sea in Monmouth County and which is undergoing an extensive rehabilitation, will be raised and lowered on its normal 30-minute schedule from noon Friday, May 27 until 6 p.m. Monday, May 30.
“We have listened to the concerns expressed by local officials, business owners and residents, and are pleased to report that we have made sufficient progress in this project to be able to suspend construction activity and operate the bridge in an efficient manner for the holiday weekend,” NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson said.
The announcement followed a meeting at NJDOT headquarters this morning attended by Belmar and Avon-By-The-Sea officials and representatives for the 11th District members of the Legislature.
“On this important holiday weekend, I am pleased that NJDOT will be able to open the bridge,” said state Senator Sean T. Kean. “This will help get the summer season off to a good start for business owners, residents and visitors. I will continue to monitor the project as it progresses to completion in June."
“I applaud the NJDOT for working with the affected communities on what has been a difficult process,” said Assemblyman Dave Rible. “While it is unfortunate that completion of the project has been delayed, I’m confident that NJDOT has received the message loud and clear to finish the job as soon as possible.”
Opening the bridge over the holiday weekend will add the better part of a week to the remaining work schedule, pushing anticipated completion of the project to late June.
After the holiday weekend, NJDOT will again pin the bridge in the open position, preventing vehicles and pedestrians from using it until construction crews complete the rehabilitation work.
“I am satisfied that NJDOT heard our concerns about our businesses and public safety, and is going to have the bridge operational for traffic for the Memorial Day weekend,” said Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty. “I am concerned that they will close the bridge immediately after Memorial Day to complete the work sometime in June. Every day it is closed, our businesses lose money and it negatively impacts our town.”
The detours that motorists have been using since construction started in October will resume at 6 p.m. Monday, May 30 and remain in effect until project completion.
• Main Street northbound motorists in Belmar will turn left onto 8th Avenue and right onto Route 35 to cross the river to Avon-By-The-Sea. Motorists will take the Sylvania Avenue ramp and turn right on to Route 71/Main Street.
• Main Street southbound motorists in Avon-By-The-Sea will turn right onto Sylvania Avenue westbound and take the loop ramp to Memorial Drive (Railroad Avenue) to Route 35 southbound to cross the river into Belmar, where they will turn left onto 8th Avenue to Route 71.
The Ocean Avenue bridge, six blocks to the east of Route 71/Main Street bridge, offers motorists and pedestrians another alternative to cross the Shark River.
On Monday, May 2, NJDOT announced that the on-going project to rehabilitate the bridge, one of three bridges in close proximity that link Belmar and Avon-By-The-Sea, Monmouth County, would take longer to complete than originally anticipated. At that time, the Department announced that the bridge would remain closed to vehicles and pedestrians until work was finished.
NJDOT has worked with local elected officials and the communities to ensure that motorists using nearby detours are aware that vehicles and pedestrians have full access to Main Street up to the bridge itself on both sides of the channel, and that Main Street shops remain open for business.
Except for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March, the bridge has remained pinned in the open position throughout construction to allow for the unobstructed passage of marine traffic. The Shark River channel is one of the busiest commercial boating channels in the state and the bridge is required to open for marine traffic on-demand.
NJDOT is completely rehabilitating the mechanical and electrical systems on the bridge and installing new safety barrier gates. The work is part of a $17.8 million project that includes improvements to the Route 88 Bridge over the Point Pleasant Canal in Point Pleasant Borough.
NJDOT provides emergency roadway information, construction schedule updates and real time traffic information and images at www.511nj.org