Morris Boulevard Bridge Replacement to Mirror Marsha Drive Under Clearance

Feb 13, 2019

A social media campaign to compel county engineers to find an additional 1-foot under-clearance for the replacement of the Morris Boulevard Bridge was successful.

“We found an additional foot,” John Ernst, county engineer, said recently. “We’ve kept it as tight as we could and still meet the standards of the road profile.”

With the 9-foot under-clearance and 40 feet total width of the replacement bridge, the size and scope of the bridge are similar to those of one on Marsha Drive, less than a mile away in the Beach Haven West section of Stafford Township. Both bridges egress from the lagoon community to Route 72, although the Marsha Drive bridge is also an ingress into the waterfront area.

The original replacement bridge called for a combined width of 40 feet and an under-clearance of 8 feet at mean high tide, according to Ernst. It was designed in 2009, three years prior to Superstorm Sandy. Unhappy with the explanation that the Morris Boulevard bridge could be raised only so high because of the vertical profile of the township-owned road and its 25-mph speed limit, opponents of the 2009 redesign mounted a campaign that included reaching out to Freeholder John C. Kelly.

Ernst said the redesign drove the cost of the project up by $50,000 to $75,000 but hasn’t impacted the timing of the project. He expects the work will begin later this year with a full closure of the roadway.

“There isn’t enough room to stage the construction (otherwise),” Ernst said, noting his department successfully found a solution to the under-clearance issue that does not encroach on homeowners in the area and provides many Beach Haven West residents and boaters with a bridge that meets their needs.

The Morris Boulevard bridge is located just above the beginning of the Causeway to Long Beach Island. Built in 1955, the bridge is currently 20 feet wide with an under-clearance of 7 feet. Morris Boulevard is a Stafford Township roadway.

Ernst said his department is finalizing plans and specifications prior to sending them to the state Department of Transportation, a step that is necessary because funding for the $1.6 million project is from the state transportation trust fund.

“They just verify we’re following procedure,” Ernst explained, noting the Morris Boulevard bridge replacement will not impact the $312 federally funded Causeway rehab and expansion project currently underway in the area.

— Gina G. Scala

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