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Opening of Ocean City-Longport Bridge
Release Date: July 12, 2002
OCEAN CITY-LONGPORT BRIDGE TO OPEN FRIDAY,
JULY 19, 2002
The Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Cape May County Bridge Commission will officially open the new Ocean City-Longport Bridge on Friday, July 19, 2002. The Grand Opening and Ribbon cutting will begin at 3:00pm at the foot of the bridge in Ocean City, New Jersey.
The Ceremony, hosted by Cape May County Freeholder Director Daniel Beyel, will include Federal, State, County and Local officials. Speakers include United States Senator Jon Corzine, U.S. Congressman Frank LoBiondo, New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner James Fox, Ocean City Mayor Bud Knight, Cape May County Bridge Commission Chairman Gerard Desiderio and former Congressman William Hughes.
The new $55 million dollar bridge will be open just to pedestrians to stroll across and enjoy the magnificent view until 6:00pm when the span will officially open to vehicles.
No tolls will be collected Friday or Saturday in order to alleviate the heavy traffic expected for Ocean City’s Night in Venice Celebration.
Also, following the ribbon cutting, the first vehicles to cross the bridge will be antique cars including the 1927 Buick owned by the family of Herbert Godfrey, one of the first passengers to cross the original Ocean City-Longport Bridge in 1928.
The Ocean City – Longport Bridge crosses Great Egg Harbor Inlet from Gardens Parkway in Ocean City in Cape May County to Fish Factory Island in Egg Harbor Township in Atlantic County, where it eventually connects with Route NJ 152.
SOME IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT THE NEW AND OLD OCEAN CITY-LONGPORT BRIDGE:
- The new bridge has an overall length of 3,450 feet. The former bridge was only 23 feet wide whereas the new bridge is 38 feet wide and provides for an 11-ft travel lane and 8-ft shoulder in each direction.
- The replacement bridge has been designed as a high-level, fixed main span that provides for 65 feet vertical under clearance. The old bridge frequently opened in the summer to allow for the passage of boats, mainly party boats, private fishing vessels and sailboats. This often resulted in traffic back-ups in Ocean City at high tide.
- The 3,500 feet long north approach roadway to the bridge was reconstructed and raised by 3.5 feet so the roadway will be passable during any storm that hits Cape May County. This allows the bridge and roadway to serve as a viable emergency evacuation route for almost any type of storm that would strike Cape May County.
- The toll plaza is three lanes wide to facilitate the movement of traffic. The third lane (middle lane) would be reversible depending upon the traffic flow. The extra lane merges quickly back into a single lane on either side of the toll plaza.
- The old bridge was constructed by the Ocean City Coastal Highway Bridge Company for $707,000 and opened to traffic on October 13, 1928. The Cape May County Bridge Commission bought the bridge in 1946 for $720,000.
- Work activity on the Ocean City end of the bridge had to be scheduled around the piping plover (threatened and endangered species) breeding season. Any blasting associated with the demolition of bridge had to be concerned about the piping plover and various sea turtle migration seasons.
- Approximately 10,000 motorists use the bridge on a typical Summer weekend day. On a typical summer weekday, 7,500 motorists used the bridge. During the off-season, approximately 3,500 motorists use the bridge.
The fishing pier rehabilitation project and bridge landscaping will not be completed by the July 19th opening; however, it will be completed by the end of the summer.
The fishing facility will contain fish cleaning stations and benches and will be lighted. A gazebo is to be constructed at the end of the pier. The fishing facility will also have a parking lot containing 32 parking spaces, portable restrooms and an interpretive historic display of the old bridge.
Funding for the project came from a variety of sources. Congressman Frank LoBiondo secured $25 million in federal funds through TEA-21 (Transportation Efficiency Act of the 21st Century). Former Congressman William Hughes garnered $18.4 million in federal funds from ISTEA (Inter-Modal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act) legislation. The County has provided $1 million and the Cape May County Bridge Commission has contributed $3 million towards the project. The balance of funding has been provided by the State through the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Cape May County initiated the bridge replacement project in June 1992 by engaging Parsons Brinckerhoff –FG, Inc. to perform the preliminary environmental and engineering studies. This preliminary study postulated the structure type and alignment and established the initial contact to the various regulatory agencies. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued the CARFA and Waterfront Development permits for the project on October 30, 1997. US Army Corp of Engineers permits were issued on June 10, 1998. US Coast Guard issued the bridge permit on April 17, 1998.