A troubled Cape May County bridge reopens Friday just in time for the summer season after an extended emergency closure.
The Townsends Inlet toll bridge, connecting Sea Isle City and Avalon, was closed beginning in April when 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.
Federal requirements mandate a complete survey of the entire support structure every two years.
Cape May County Engineer Dale Foster had originally hoped to have the bridge open for Memorial Day weekend but said the repairs were a “very challenging undertaking” due to problems with driving support piles into the inlet’s bottom.
During the spring, Foster said that discovered crack was “very recent in nature,” adding 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.
Foster has recently said he had hoped to reopen the bridge prior to the July 4 holiday.
In 2015, a project to repair the support beams on the bridge’s movable span faced numerous setbacks, forcing a closure into early summer.
Motorists have been using Route 9 or the Garden State Parkway to circumvent the bridge.
Pedestrians, anglers, and bicyclists continued to use the bridge, but access was closed during certain construction operations. The work did not disrupt marine traffic.