Most Brick motorists have probably noticed the recent traffic pattern shifts along Old Hooper Avenue in the area of the project to replace the Duck Farm Bridge. The change signaled that half the project has been completed, and traffic has now shifted onto a newly-built bridge that replaced the single-span concrete and timber structure that had been in place for decades.
“We are going into phase two, and in the last couple of weeks we moved traffic,” said Assistant Ocean County Engineer Mark Jehnke. “There isn’t an exact timeframe, but we split the bridge in half and did one half at a time. Now we’ve moved onto the second half.”
The bridge crosses a creek that flows to the Metedeconk River, and until the construction project was often overlooked by drivers, who may not have realized they were crossing a waterway. County officials began staging the $4,106,036 project in November 2022 and constructing the new bridge in January 2023, following the reception of a state grant that will cover $1,723,491 of the cost. Engineers designed the project so the bridge could be demolished one half at a time so traffic could continue through the busy thoroughfare during construction. An aerial view of the project shows the first new portion of the bridge having been completed.
Once the second portion of the bridge is replaced, the two primary phases will be complete, and traffic can begin going back to its normal pattern.
“That will be it as far as the bridge construction, but there will be some more ancillary items to take off after that,” said Jehnke. “We’re going to be doing the restoration of the roadway, the striping, new guide rails and landscaping.”
The timeline for the completion of the second phase may change depending on weather and the global supply chain, however engineering estimates published by the county anticipate a 120-day period to accommodate the physical construction of the second portion of the bridge. It will then take another month of work to complete the final items, including drainage upgrades, guide rails, a new sidewalk, curbing, grading, and a new southbound approach roadway along western side of the bridge.
Upon completion, the bridge will have been replaced by a single-barrel 28-foot span (replacing the former 30-foot span), made of precast concrete with a rigid frame founded on cast-in-place concrete footings.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. Its sidewalks, curbs and ramps will be constructed to accommodate wheelchairs and other ADA access considerations.
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.