Demolition of the Beesleys Point Bridge between Somers Point and Upper Township is set to begin Friday.

Work will start at the Somers Point side, where crews have been staging construction equipment for weeks. The structure will be broken up and taken away by heavy machinery.

New Jersey Turnpike Authority spokesman Tom Feeney said the northern half of the bridge will be taken down first, while work to take down the half south of the drawbridge will start in the fall.

The work will not affect traffic because the bridge has been closed since June 16, 2004, when a concrete pile partially collapsed. Access to Drag Island, which recreational fishermen often use, has been restricted for weeks and likely will be for years until the state creates a new pier as part of the project.

The demolition is the start of a three-year project that will include the construction of a new southbound span for the Garden State Parkway.

The NJTA awarded a $130 million contract for the work in March. Combined with the costs of permitting, design and tree-clearing contracts, the total cost should be about $230 million.

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