Morris Boulevard Bridge to Close Later This Month as Replacement Project Begins

By Gina G. Scala | Oct 09, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Stafford Township — The Ocean County contractor responsible for the replacement of the Morris Boulevard Bridge expects to shut the bridge, and consequently, the road, to traffic on or about Oct. 21 as the project kicks into high gear.

John Ernst, county engineer, said Atlantic City Electric was expected to complete relocating its lines earlier this week with Comcast beginning its work Wednesday, Oct. 9. It’s unclear how long it will take for the area’s only cable provider to complete relocating its lines. Once it does, Verizon, which offers telephone services in the area, will remove and relocate its utilities.

“We realize it’s going to be an inconvenience for a lot of people who live in that section of town,” Mayor Greg Myhre said at the last township council meeting, “but this is the best, most efficient way that we’ve been told that they can do it. ... Anything we can do to move that along, we will certainly help out where we can.”

Earlier this year, a social media campaign successfully challenged county engineers to find an additional 1-foot under-clearance for the replacement of the Morris Boulevard Bridge. 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.

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.

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.

The Morris Boulevard bridge is located near 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 the plans were reviewed by 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.

Part of the reason the Morris Boulevard bridge replacement wasn’t undertaken earlier is because of the $312 million federally funded Causeway expansion and rehabilitation project, he said.

— Gina G. Scala


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