AVALON — A crack 30 feet below water in one of the supporting piers of the Townsends Inlet toll bridge has resulted in its indefinite closure, Cape May County Engineer Dale Foster said Monday.
The county-owned bridge, which opened in 1940, connects Sea Isle City and Avalon via Ocean Drive.
Foster said the hope is for the repairs to be completed before Memorial Day. In the meantime, motorists will have to use Route 9 or the Garden State Parkway to circumvent the bridge.
Drivers hoping to use E-ZPass on Cape May County’s five Ocean Drive bridges will have to wai…
The issue was discovered Monday morning by a diver hired to survey the area in preparation for underwater substructure repairs in 2017 and 2018, Foster said.
“This is something that was on our radar of concern, and that’s why we were moving forward,” Foster said.
During the summer, Cape May County Freeholders approved a bond for $8.3 million to make repairs at several county-owned bridges, including Townsends Inlet, he said. Money for these repairs will come out of the bond ordinance, Foster said.
Foster said the repair will require a barge with a crane and reinforcement of the pier with additional piles to support the bridge. He said it will not affect the weight limit.
“It’s not an easy repair to do,” Foster said.
Residents in the area have been dealing with bridge closings for several years. The Townsends Inlet bridge was closed for half a year after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 washed out the approaching roadway on the Avalon side of the bridge.
A $4.4 million upgrade closed the bridge again for two offseasons in 2014 and 2015, and it was closed the following winter for road repairs.
In the fall, a crack in the Stone Harbor bridge at 96th Street resulted in its closing for one month while the county undertook emergency repairs.