CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE, NJ -- Every two (2) years, NJ Department of Transportation engages a consulting firm to perform an in-depth inspection of the County bridges, as per federal regulations. Most inspections of the County bridges go unnoticed by the motoring public because the bridges are close to the water, and can be inspected without the need for specialized equipment. However, the taller bridges required the use of an under-bridge inspection vehicle. This vehicle rides along the top side of the bridge with an articulated arm that swings out and over the side of the bridge. To use this vehicle, it requires a lane on the bridge to be closed to traffic. The bridge inspections are generally performed after the summer tourist season, when traffic volumes are lower and the temperatures are comfortable.
The inspections requiring a lane closing for bridge inspections will begin September 12th at Avalon Boulevard over Ingrams Thorofare (tall bridge) between Swainton and Avalon. The inspection of this bridge is expected to take two (2) days and the lane closing will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. Traffic directors will control traffic movements at each end of the bridge. Motorists should expect delays during the times that the bridge inspections are being performed in a lane closings.
The inspections cannot be performed in the rain or high winds. The other bridges requiring lane closings, in the order that they are scheduled to be inspected over the next two (2) weeks, are:
• Roosevelt Boulevard over Crook Horn Creek between Marmora and Ocean City
• Sea Isle Boulevard over Ludlam Thorofare between Ocean View and Sea Isle City
• 96th Street Bridge between Cape May Court House and Stone Harbor
• Ocean Drive over Great Channel between North Wildwood and Stone Harbor
In addition to the viewing the bridges with the under-bridge inspection vehicle, the bridges are inspected by personnel walking the bridges while viewing the deck surfaces and by boat to view the underside of the bridges and the substructure elements from the waterline up. Every four (4) years, some bridges undergo an underwater inspection by trained divers.
Each element of the bridge is inspected and provided with a condition rating of 1 to 9 with a 9 meaning the element is in excellent condition. The elements of the bridge are:
• Deck (top surface)
• Superstructure (stringers, floorbeams, girders, etc.)
• Substructure (pier, piles, etc.)
• Approach roadway
• Safety features (bridge railing, parapets, guide rail, etc.)
• Waterway Channel
All of the field work is assembled into a report that provides conclusions and recommendations. The reports are the basis for bridge repair programs.