Crews this week began construction on the much-awaited replacement of the Duck Farm Bridge, which carries traffic on Old Hooper Avenue (at the Chambers Bridge Road extension) over a creek stemming from the Metedeconk River.
The construction began earlier this week after crews started preliminary staging earlier this fall. The bridge – which was barely noticeable to motorists as they crossed it – will be replaced in two phases so traffic can continue moving in both directions during the course of the construction. But for much of Hooper Avenue, traffic is limited to one lane in each direction, and a series of barrels and signs guide drivers around some abrupt lane shifts.
The bridge is located roughly in between the popular Villa Vittoria restaurant and Habor Freight Tools. Construction began a bit later than originally anticipated, and work in the water must comply with environmental regulations that coincide with winter flounder spawning season.
“What they want to do is be able to get in and demolish half the bridge, work on half of it, and get the new half open before they have to be out of the water again,” said Ocean County Engineer John Ernst. “With the timing of the deliveries it all has to fall into place.”
Construction as a whole is expected to take “several months,” officials said.
Brick police also cautioned motorists to be aware that traffic patterns will change periodically as construction moves forward.
“During the different phases of construction, there will be several changes to the traffic patterns on Hooper Avenue,” the department said in a statement. “Expect increased delays and allow for extra travel time when traveling through the area.”
The work will consist of the complete demolition of the existing single-span concrete and timber bridge, which is 30-feet long. It will be replaced with a single-barrel 28-foot span, made of precast concrete with a rigid frame founded on cast-in-place concrete footings. The bridge will be supported on cast-in-place piles.
The scope of work also includes the construction of temporary and permanent steel sheeting, reinforced concrete wing walls, plus minor drainage, curbing and sidewalk improvements. The project will also include the installation of ADA-compliant ramps, roadway reconstruction, and a new guide rail.
In July, the county awarded a $4,106,036 contract to Rencor Inc., of Somerville, N.J. to complete the work. The state will fund a $1,723,491 portion of the project through the Department of Transportation’s Local Bridge Fund.
The span is known as the Duck Farm Bridge, Brick Township lore holds, because of an illegal still that was operated just up Old Hooper during and after the prohibition era at a duck farm near Drum Point Road. According to the Brick Township Historical Society, the still was raided in 1937 – after prohibition had ended – by the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department. Carl Borman, the property’s owner, was arrested along with two workers who manned the 5,000 gallon operation. The name of the bridge, which carried traffic to the farm, stuck in the decades that followed.