West Front Street Bridge Work Has Begun

The project is slated for completion in May of 2016.

West Front Street Bridge rendering at a forum last year in Middletown. (Photo: Elaine Van Develde)
West Front Street Bridge rendering at a forum last year in Middletown. (Photo: Elaine Van Develde)

If you've crossed the West Front Street Bridge lately, you've seen that the long-planned project to replace the rickety 92-year-old span over the Swimming River has begun.

As part of the roughly 20-month, $21.7 million project to completely replace the bridge that currently carries an average daily traffic flow of 17,000 vehicles, the new bridge is being built parallel to the old.

That plan, sanctioned via resolutions by both Red Bank and Middletown governing bodies, diminishes the need for detours, leaving the original, older bridge open during most of the construction.

“The new 488-foot long steel girder bridge will be constructed to the north of the existing bridge on a curved alignment,” Monmouth County Freeholder Director Thomas Arnone said in a released statement. “This will reduce the impact to the traveling public for most of the construction period."

Residents in the River Plaza section of Middletown, however, have long argued that the excessive traffic implications that will come with the project in that area will be overwhelming.

With the project slated for completion in May of 2016, the existing bridge, which has a load limit of 15 tons, will close for four of the 20 or so months of project duration, starting in January of 2015. During the four-month closure period, the new bridge will be connected to the shoreline on either side and the old bridge will be removed

The new bridge will be 32 feet wide with two 12-foot travel lanes, four-foot shoulders and six-foot sidewalks in both directions, Arnone added.

He also specified that the current small bridge repair project nearby on Newman Springs Road will haven been long completed when any closure of the West Front Street Bridge begins.

That project's road lane shrink at the Red Bank-Middletown border is expected to open back up again from two- to full four-lane capacity in November of this year, with the project slated for completion in December.

Known by locals as Hubbard's Bridge, the West Front Street Bridge was built in 1921. Due to extensive corrosion, its superstructure was replaced in 2004 as a temporary fix.

The new bridge will be constructed by Agate Construction Company, Ocean View. In addition to having a heavier load capacity, its architectural amenities will include ornamental lights and a decorative recessed brick panel parapet with a decorative ball and cap railing.

The road will also be widened at entrances on both the Red Bank and Middletown sides of the new bridge and there will be improved storm water drainage, highway lighting and new guide rail treatments.

The bridge’s concrete sidewalks will provide an ADA-accessible route from Hubbard Avenue in Middletown to Rector Place/Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank, the release said.

The new bridge will provide approximately nine feet of vertical clearance above mean high water mark; there will be approximately 72 feet of horizontal clearance within the navigable channel of the Swimming River, it added.

The project, overseen by the county's Department of Public Works and Engineering, is being funded by the Federal Highway Administration, the NJDOT and the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund. The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority is assisting as well.


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