CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Cape May County plans to rebuild a causeway, expand the jail and knock down a bridge starting later this year.
County Engineer Dale Foster outlined this year’s capital plan, which includes $25 million in road repairs, $2 million in engineering services and nearly $5 million in bridge projects.
The most expensive project will be the $15 million expansion and renovation to the jail in the Crest Haven Complex. County taxpayers will have to pay for the entire project, County Administrator Stephen O’Connor said.
“There is just no grant money available for correctional facilities,” he said.
But the county is getting $7.3 million in federal funding for the $9 million reconstruction of Sea Isle Boulevard in Dennis Township between the Garden State Parkway and the Ludlam Bridge. The county plans to raise the profile of the 2-mile-long causeway by about four feet to get both lanes of travel higher than the 100-year storm elevation. This will take an enormous amount of fill and time to allow the material to settle, Foster said.
The county simultaneously is working on road improvements on JFK Boulevard between the Ludlam Bridge and Landis Avenue.
“This will enhance our beach-to-bay project,” Freeholder and Sea Isle City Mayor Leonard Desiderio said.
The county is expected to seek bids for the project later this year, with construction taking about three years.
Also later this year, the state Department of Transportation will pay to knock down the drawbridge portion of the Beesleys Point Bridge. The Upper Township bridge spanning the Great Egg Harbor Bay has been closed since 2004 when a leaning concrete pier threatened to fall into other supports.
The county will invest $1 million this year in electrical and structural repairs to the 96th Street bridge in Stone Harbor.
And in 2012, the biggest project will be replacing the deck on the 34th Street bridge in Ocean City. This construction was timed to take place after the completion of the $400 million Route 52 causeway, Foster said.
“It’s a massive project and not one I’m looking forward to because of the traffic tie-ups,” Foster said.
This bridge between Ocean City and Upper Township is one of the city’s most heavily used but has not endured the marine elements as well as nearby bridges that were built around the same time, Foster said.
Missing from the capital plan is the Middle Thorofare Bridge in Lower Township. This is a priority of the county, but it is too costly to take on alone, Foster said. The county technically was supposed to reimburse the federal government for $1 million in engineering studies because construction did not start within 10 years of the consulting work, Foster said. The reimbursement was waived and the county ended up terminating the design work on the bridge because there was no funding to pursue the $250 million project, he said.
“We have a filing cabinet full of studies on that bridge,” Foster said. “It’s a bridge we need to replace. We can’t do it ourselves.”
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