Following is a notice from the County of Cape May regarding the closure of the Townsend’s Inlet Bridge on April 3rd:
Until further notice, the Townsends Inlet Bridge between Avalon and Sea Isle City is closed to traffic due to the findings of an underwater inspection performed this morning. The dive team from Churchill Consulting Engineers, Berlin, NJ, discovered a crack and movement in one pile, that are very recent in nature, and severe deterioration in another pile of a three-pile cluster supporting one of the piers on the Avalon side of the bridge. This places the pier in an unstable condition to support loads.
The three-pile cluster, consisting of steel H-piles were installed in the summer of 1962 to provide supplemental support at each end of four (4) piers. The supplemental supports were needed due to the drop in the inlet bottom during the 1962 nor’easter. The pile clusters at the other three piers do not exhibit the severity of the defects that were found on Pier 6.
Unfortunately the bridge will be closed for an indefinite period of time because of the equipment and materials needed to make the repairs and the conditions in which the contractor will be working in. The defects in the two piles are located approximately 20 feet below the water. The water depth about this pier is approximately 50 feet.
At their February 14, 2017 meeting, Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders engaged Greenman-Pedersen Inc., Lebanon, NJ with a local office in Ocean View, NJ, to design and prepare contract documents for underwater repairs to the Townsends Inlet Bridge, that are anticipated to be performed in the 2017-18 winter season. This underwater inspection was being performed to gather information for this planned repair contract.
As part of the federal requirements, the Townsends Inlet Bridge undergoes a re-evaluation survey of the entire structure every two (2) years; this also involves an underwater inspection of bridge. The most recent biennial inspection of the bridge began in October 2015. Following up on the findings of the inspection, the County initiated a program to address defects noted in the underwater inspection report by establishing funding in a bond and soliciting a consultant to perform the design. The next re-evaluation survey of the bridge is scheduled to begin October 2017.