Great Egg Harbor Bridge
|Great Egg Harbor Bridge|
|Carries||4 lanes of US 9 / G.S. Parkway|
|Crosses||Great Egg Harbor Bay|
|Maintained by||New Jersey Turnpike Authority|
|Total length||1.47 mi (2.37 km)|
1956 (original southbound)|
2016 (replacement southbound)
US$1.50 (cars) for Southbound only |
E-Z Pass discounts available for heavier vehicles
The Great Egg Harbor Bridge is a series of four bridges along the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey, with tolls collected in the southbound direction. It crosses the Great Egg Harbor Bay, connecting Upper Township, in Cape May County to Somers Point in Atlantic County. The bridge crosses over a section of Egg Harbor Township, and Drag Island. It carries a portion of U.S. Route 9.
The Beesley's Point Generating Station can be seen from the bridge.
The Garden State Parkway is a tolled limited-access highway that serves as the primary route connecting the Jersey Shore to points north and south in New Jersey. Upper Township in Cape May County connects with Somers Point via the Great Egg Harbor Bridge on the Parkway. This bridge first crosses over Harbor Road, which is the last street in Beesley's Point, connecting homes along Great Egg Harbor Bay and Peck Bay to U.S. Route 9. The bridge then crosses Great Egg Harbor Bay to Drag Island, which it crosses as a causeway. A small portion of the bridge enters Egg Harbor Township. Another bridge crosses Drag Channel to the mainland of Atlantic County in Somers Point.
As with the rest of the Garden State Parkway, the bridge is a component of the National Highway System, a network of roadways that are important to the country's economy, defense, and mobility. The bridge carries two lanes of traffic in each direction. For a 2 mi (3.2 km) stretch between mile marker 27–29, the speed limit drops to 45 mph (72 km/h). The bridge is used heavily in the summertime, peaking on Saturdays.
In 1952, the New Jersey Highway Authority (NJHA) was created to facilitate the construction of the Garden State Parkway. In October 1954, the NJHA received bids for constructing a 3,650 ft (1,110 m) bridge crossing the Great Egg Harbor Bay, beginning at Beesley's Point, as well as a 750 ft (230 m) bridge crossing Drag Channel. The bridges would be linked by a causeway, and form a part of the Garden State Parkway. In construction, the bridge project utilized 140 prestressed concrete beams, each 40 ft (12 m) in length, at a cost of $640 each (1954 USD). The project also used a concrete deck at the cost of less than $2 per ft2. On May 26, 1956, the Great Egg Harbor Bridge opened at a cost of $4.5 million, completing the Garden State Parkway.
The bridge carried traffic in both directions, but soon was unable to accommodate the increasing traffic. A parallel bridge carrying northbound traffic was opened in 1972. In 1999, the northbound span was closed for seven weeks after cracks were found in the steel hangars. In 2000, after cracking was found in the steel supports on the southbound bridge, construction crews made emergency repairs at the cost of $900,000 (2000 USD).
Before the Great Egg Harbor Bridge was completed, traffic on the Garden State Parkway was detoured onto US 9 and the Beesley's Point Bridge. This old alignment no longer exists today.
A 2002 study by the NJDOT Bridge Management System indicated that both the northbound and southbound bridges over Great Egg Harbor were structurally deficient, and the crossing of Drag Channel was functionally obsolete. A traffic study in 2004 identified poor pavement on the bridge. To address the structural deficiency along substandard roadway, and to maintain a proper evacuation route, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) proposed a replacement bridge as early as 2010. The NJTA worked with the United States Coast Guard as the lead federal agency for the project due to the crossing over a navigable roadway. The proposed project would construct a new southbound bridge, wide enough to carry traffic in both directions in the event of an emergency, as well as carrying a multi-use pedestrian and bike path from U.S. 9 in Somers Point to Harbor Road. Included in the project was demolishing the Beesley's Point Bridge, built in 1928, and closed to traffic in June 2004 due to damage. On September 20, 2012, the NJTA held a public meeting in Upper Township about the proposed bridge.
In March 2013, the NJTA awarded Route 52 Constructors a $129.8 million (2013 USD) contract to build the southbound replacement bridge, and demolish the Beesley's Point Bridge. These were the same contractors to build the second phase of the New Jersey Route 52 replacement bridge, between Somers Point and Ocean City. Demolition of the Beesley's Point Bridge began in June 2013, and construction of the replacement southbound Parkway bridge began that September, 12 ft (3.7 m) west of the existing bridge. Hardesty & Hanover, LLP designed the new crossing. The bridge was supported by 20 piers with 3 columns each, using prestressed concrete beams. This created a wider channel than the original 1954 bridge. To test the performance of the pilings, the crew performed the first statnamic load test in the state of New Jersey. Construction crews worked to avoid disrupting migratory bird and fish species. In August 2016, the new southbound bridge opened, and in November of that year, the last part of the Beesley's Point Bridge was dismantled. The project ultimately cost $142.9 million. US 9 is now routed onto the Great Egg Harbor Bridge, as well.
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