Officials say repairs to a bridge that connects two Jersey Shore towns will not be done in time for Memorial Day weekend, the beginning of the summer tourism season.
Cape May County Engineer Dale Foster says repairs to the Townsends Inlet toll bridge, closed since early April because of a crack in one of its supporting piers, is a “very challenging undertaking.”
The work on the movable span that connects Sea Isle City and Avalon is taking longer than expected due to problems driving of the support piles into the inlet’s bottom, according to a county release.
Foster was originally optimistic for a late May reopening, but crews encountered an obstruction approximately 12 feet below the inlet bottom forcing its removal and the current re-installation.
They’re installing a new cluster of three 160-foot, 24-inch diameter pipe piles from floating equipment in the inlet due to the compromised strength of the structure.
The engineer says crews are dealing with swift currents and water depths of more than 50 feet.
Earlier this year, a diver hired to survey the area in preparation for underwater substructure repairs next winter discovered a crack about 30 feet below water in one of the piers.
The crack is “very recent in nature,” according to Foster, who added that the diver discovered “severe deterioration” in a pile supporting another pier. The pier where the crack was discovered was installed during the summer of 1962.
In 2015, a project to repair the support beams on the bridge’s movable span faced numerous setbacks, forcing a closure into early summer.
It is one of Cape May County’s structurally deficient bridges. Federal requirements mandate a complete survey of the entire structure every two years.
Motorists must continue to use Route 9 or the Garden State Parkway to circumvent the bridge.
Pedestrians, anglers, and bicyclists can continue to use the bridge, but access will be closed during certain construction operations. The ongoing work is not disrupting marine traffic.