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This bascule bridge is noted for its arched deck plate girder approach spans, which are encased in concrete. It is also noted for its main bascule span, which is a fixed trunnion, but designed according to a patented design. Sadly however, the bascule span is of limited historic significance today. The bascule leaves are modern and non-historic, having been replaced with ugly welded girders in 1987.
This bridge appears to have a plaque on the railings, not included in the photos submitted to HistoricBridges.org. If anyone has a photo of the plaque, we would be interested to see it. The builder is listed in the historic bridge inventory as "Merrit-Chapman and McLean" which is an unfamiliar name. It seems more likely that the builder was "Merritt-Chapman and Scott" which was a famous contractor.
Above: Historical postcard showing bridge with original riveted bascule leaves.
Information and Findings From New Jersey's Historic Bridge Inventory
The double-leaf bascule bridge with two encased haunched deck girder approach spans has concrete mechanical houses, cantilevered sidewalks with sheet metal balustrades, and concrete substructure. Originally designed in 1936 by Ash-Howard-Needles-Tammen, the bridge was extensively rebuilt in 1987 with new welded deck girder leafs, speed reducers, electrical wiring, and locks. The span is too altered to be significant. Distinguished examples of the bridge type remain in the county (1300S31).
The two-lane bridge with sidewalks spans the Shark River, which forms the border between Avon-by-the-Sea Borough and Belmar Borough, beach resort towns originally developed in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Ocean Avenue parallels the beach. The bridge is located at the mouth of the navigable Shark River, and is one of the busiest movable spans in the state, opening an average of over 8,000 times per year.
The main span of the 3-span haunched deck girder with floor beams bridge is a double-leaf trunnion bascule. The approach spans are encased. The substructure consists of concrete abutments and piers. The double-leaf bascule span is operated by means of pinions which engage racks attached to the main girders. The main girders have been rebuilt, the original riveted girders replaced with all new welded-stiffener plate girders. The pinions are operated through a train of gears connected to electric motors with back up gasoline engines. While the span operates in the original manner, most of the fabric related to the movable leafs is new. The electric motors, racks, rack pinions, rack pinion shafts, primary and secondary reducing gears, brakes and locks are modern replacements as are the welded movable leaf girders with concrete counterweights attached to the tail ends. They are finished with metal sidewalk railings that repeat the style of the concrete balustrades of the approach spans. Automatic traffic signals and barriers also have been added to the bridge. The concrete operator's house and control panel are original, but the electrical systems have been updated with automatic controls for opening and closing. The two-story concrete operator's houses on opposite sides of the double leaf bascule have rectangular floor plans and are Moderne in style with vertical scoring and lantern-style roof lines. The
Historical and Technological Significance
The 1936 Ocean Avenue double-leaf bascule bridge is one of over a dozen regional examples of Ash-Howard-Needles and Tammen (AHNT) designed trunnion bascule bridges dating from the late 1920s-1930s. This one was built by the Merritt-Chapman-McLean Corporation. The bridge is not an early example of the bridge type, and it is highly altered. The movable leafs are welded girders placed in 1987, and the motors, racks, pinions, shafts, enclosed gears, brakes, and toe locks are also modern replacements. The approach spans enjoy more integrity than the movable span. Because of the loss of so much original fabric, this example of what is a well represented bridge type, is not historically nor technologically distinguished. More complete examples remain, and they better reflect the technological significance of the bridge type (see 1300S31, Oceanic Bridge over the Navesink River, 1939, Middletown Township). The patent associated with the AHNT design is for the trunnion tower. The design eclipsed the Strauss-designed bascule in popularity in the state in the late 1920s.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No
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