People looking to hit up the Jersey Shore this spring (and possibly beyond) need to find another way to get between two of the shore's iconic towns.
"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," Cape May County engineer Dale Foster said Monday.
Parts of two separate three-pile clusters – consisting of steel installed following a nor'easter in the summer of 1962 to give some extra support at each end of the four piers supporting the span – appeared to be unstable.
"The dive team from Churchill Consulting Engineers, Berlin, New Jersey, 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," Foster said. "This places the pier in an unstable condition to support loads."
The problems stop traffic on the toll bridge for the foreseeable future, officials said.
"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," Foster said. "The defects in the two piles are located approximately 20 feet below the water. The water depth about this pier is approximately 50 feet."
With the bridge closed, people will need to drive back out to the Garden State Parkway to go between Avalon and Sea Isle.
County freeholders had initially planned with making repairs in the 2017-18 season but moved up repairs after inspections for that project turned up the problems, officials said.
The bridge must be inspected during a survey federally mandated for every two years. The last biennial inspected came in October 2015, officials said.