A three-and-a-half-month project to remove and replace all but the main girders in the movable span of the Townsends Inlet Bridge is days away from completion.

The first phase of the $5 million, two-year project to overhaul the 74-year-old bridge between Sea Isle City and Avalon is scheduled to end May 15 when the bridge reopens to vehicular traffic, although that could happen as soon as Monday, Cape May County Engineer Dale Foster said.

The project, which began with the closing of the bridge on Feb. 3, strengthened the girders, which will allow loads up to 15 tons. The load posting had been reduced to 3 tons for 2012 and 2013, Foster said, due to the weakened state of the corroded supports.

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The structural steel on the movable span was repaired this year, and gears and other mechanicals will be replaced next year, Foster said.

The rehabilitation of the bridge, which opened in 1940, had been planned prior to its forced closing by Sandy. When the hurricane washed out the approach road on the Avalon side of the bridge in October 2012, the Townsends Inlet Bridge had to be closed. It reopened at the end of April 2013 and remained open until repairs began in February.

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Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.

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