Beesley's Point Bridge

Coordinates: 39°17′51″N 74°37′26″W / 39.29751°N 74.623947°W / 39.29751; -74.623947

The Beesleys Point Bridge is a bridge in New Jersey, United States, that was built privately by the Ocean City Automobile Club in 1927. Completed in 1928, control of the bridge was acquired by the Beesley Point Bridge Company. It was a toll bridge from its opening. Prior to its closing, it was best known for carrying US 9 over the Great Egg Harbor Bay, connecting Upper Township, in Cape May County to Somers Point in Atlantic County. Prior to 1955, the bridge concurrently carried the Garden State Parkway over the Great Egg Harbor Bay. When the Parkway completed its own bridge over the bay, each had its own alignment with the Garden State Parkway using the Great Egg Harbor Bridge.

Through the decades, the Beesley Point Bridge Company became unable to fund repairs on the aging bridge. In 1997, the bridge in conjunction with private outside investors, secured a $1 million loan from the New Jersey Department of Transportation to fund the necessary improvements in exchange for a promise that they would continue to keep the bridge open until 2016.

In 2004, the owners of the bridge broke that promise realizing that the repairs would cost many times more than the original estimate. As a result, the Company agreed to close the bridge and it closed to traffic on June 18, 2004.

Design

The bridge carried two lanes of traffic for approximately 4,800 feet. The structure immediately north over the Drag Channel is a separate structure and is commonly referred to incorrectly as the same structure resulting in an erroneous 6,000 foot total length.

The bridge contains 120 spans and has a 80 foot double leaf bascule span that opens for maritime traffic. The official NJDOT Historic Bridge Survey states that the substructure has been heavily reconstructed. The bascule span received modern controls and electrical systems during the rehabilitation. Access to the mechanical rooms were denied for the final bridge inspection, but topside inspection reveals that the bascule appears heavily altered and thus is not eligible for historic preservation.

Future

In 2006, Hurricane Ernesto made Cape May County officials nervous because they lacked the use of the bridge as an additional evacuation route. As a result, Cape May County purchased the bridge from the Beesley Point Bridge Company for $1 with the intent of rehabiliating it and opening it in 2012. Several studies have been commissioned for the feasibility of doing so, but Cape May County engineers can only conclude that significant rehabilitation would only produce an extended life of up to 15 years. Costs vary on the price of rehabilitation, but it appears that only a 15 year realization on the investment is not worth the cost.

However, the NJDOT planned to funding a project to rehabiliate the bridge to at least 2019 in their Statewide Transportation Program 2011-2019. Ironically, the funding is level for all 10 years and they both spell the bridge incorrectly and erroneously use the apostrophe in the document revealing the funding allocation.

Cape May County officials, including Democrat Jeff Van Drew, have gone on record that bridge rehabilitation would begin in the summer of 2010 and the bridge would reopen to traffic in 2012. On June 28, 2010 the Press of Atlantic City published an article revealing a previous crack in the existing deck had turned into a three foot chasm.

At the 7th Annual Cape May County Transportation Infrastructure Conference on Tuesday February 22, 2011, it was announced that the bridge would be demolished but discussions are still in the preliminary mode. The bridge may be turned into a fishing pier.

Building Activity

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