CAPE MAY COUNTY, NJ - For the third summer in a row, the Townsends Inlet Bridge, which connects Sea Isle City to Avalon, will be closed for a portion of the summer.
Engineers from Cape May County say the going repairs, and replacement of seven spans of the bridge, are taking longer than expected, and the vital connector to both shore towns will not reopen until "late summer."
Officials say the nearly 80-year-old bridge cannot open until late summer because there is currently no deck or deck component. The delay is also the result of unexpected construction and geotechnical issues.
Jacquie Ewing owns Armadillo Ltd. in Avalon and is also the president of the 7 Mile Business Community Association and said, "There’s no plan B. There’s no water taxi .There’s no ferry. They're like, 'It’s an inconvenience.' No! It’s not just an inconvenience; it’s a financial hardship.”
Avalon Business Administrator, Scott Wahl, told PHL17 a ferry between the two towns would be unlikely. Wahl said, "I think it would be extremely difficult. If you did some sort of a ferry service you would need various approvals, high-level insurances, a private operator, and for somebody to do that...I don’t think the county anticipated this bridge would be closed for this long and we would largely miss an entire summer, if not the whole thing.”
Officials with Cape May County said their goal is to get the bridge reopened sometime this summer, but an official target re-opening date will not be known for the next few weeks.
The Cape May County Department of Public Works released a memo on the delay saying, "Unfortunately, attaining the May 22nd completion date left little margin for delays resulting from weather, tidal events, and the overall complexity of the project. Despite adding additional manpower and work shifts (at times 24 hours per day of construction activity), several construction challenges including those associated with demolition, underwater salvage operations, and subsurface geotechnical complications have adversely affected the bridge’s completion schedule. Regrettably, the aftermath of the previous construction issues will result in a substantial delay of the planned opening date of the bridge. Based upon the best information available to the County at this time, it is estimated that the Townsend’s Inlet Bridge will not open before late summer."