By KENNY WALTER
OCEAN TOWNSHIP — After being closed for more than a year, the Sunset Avenue Bridge, connecting Ocean Township and Asbury Park over Deal Lake, has officially reopened.
Officials commemorated the opening of the new and improved bridge during a May 27 press conference.
“This project, along with the nearby Main Street Bridge replacement, are finishing just ahead of the kick-off to the summer season and will alleviate traffic for local residents and make it easier for visitors to arrive at their destination,” said Freeholder Director Thomas Arnone, who oversees the Department of Public Works and Engineering and Tourism office.
“Traffic will move smoothly through the towns which are gateways to Monmouth County beaches. I thank the homeowners and businesses for their patience, and I look forward to a bridge that will last many years and help draw tourists to the area.”
The bridge was originally closed on Jan. 30, 2015, after officials secured funding to replace the deteriorating bridge.
Arnone said the timing of the reopening is beneficial to the busier summer businesses.
“I know the residents are relieved as well as the local businesses that depend on increased sales from tourists,” he said. “This area was prone to slow traffic which needed to be fixed. This was an example of a job well done.
“The first-class workmanship helps the people who live here and visitors who want to enjoy a day at the beach travel safely and efficiently.”
The replacement bridge is 51 feet wide with two 12-foot travel lanes and 6-foot shoulders and 6-foot sidewalks in both directions. It replaces the previous span that was built in 1926.
The replacement bridge included the construction of a new four-span pre-cast, pre-stressed concrete I-beam bridge and improvements to nearby roads. The job also included the removal and rerouting of existing utilities and demolishing the existing bridge.
Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso, who also oversees the Tourism office, said the main benefit will be the reduction in traffic.
“This area of Monmouth County becomes congested at off-peak hours and it only gets worse during the important summer season,” she said. “The timing on this project and the Main Street Bridge project benefits many groups.
“I give credit to the construction companies that completed this important work before the holiday weekend.”
In the area of the bridge, construction work will be ongoing for several weeks. Finishing work on the bridge and its approaches will include an ADA-accessible route along Sunset Avenue from Ocean Township to Asbury Park.