The Route 71 bridge over the Shark River is now open. A detour that rerouted Route 71 traffic onto Route 35 in Belmar since Hurricane Sandy is over.
State Department of Transportation officials announced the span between Belmar and Avon-by-the-Sea, at the north end of Main Street in Belmar reopened to vehicular traffic.
Repair work after the storm is complete "days ahead of schedule," said NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson in a news release today.
“We are pleased to get this bridge back in service ahead of schedule because we understand its importance to residents, business owners and visitors," said NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson.
Since the storm forced the bridge's closure for electrical repairs, detours on both sides of the river put traffic on east-west roads and then onto Route 35 to complete the route over the river. Drivers will now be able to continue north or south on Route 71 over the Shark River, and all lanes are open.
According to the NJDOT: crews "pinned the bridge in the open position to allow for extensive electrical repairs to the drawbridge. The electrical and mechanical systems that power the drawbridge were damaged by tidal flooding and wind generated by the superstorm."
The work was planned to take 60 days, but the NJDOT was able to complete the repairs in 48 days.
The NJDOT says the Shark River channel is "one of the busiest commercial boating channels in the state." The bridge opens for marine traffic on-demand, per U.S. Coast Guard requirements.
The post-storm repair works follows a 2011 project where crews fixed the out-dated mechanical and electrical systems on the bridge and installed new safety barrier gates.
The NJDOT traditionally suspends roadwork during peak holiday times, but the department was able to complete the Route 71 repairs this week.