The Friends of the Oceanic Bridge Association, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) corporation
and all donations are tax deductible. Please send contributions to:
Daniel Crabbe, Treasurer
Friends of the Oceanic Bridge Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 213
Rumson, NJ 07760
Overview of the Issues
Federal law establishes a reference for fixed bridges as opposed to movable span bridges. However,
if there are social, economic, environmental or engineering reasons which favor the selection
of a movable bridge, then that preference can be overcome. That is particularly the case where
the costs imposed by the fixed span outweigh its benefits. Costs in this context include not
only traditional costs of construction, but an evaluation of value of the resource which is harmed (viewshed,
historic neighborhoods) or other costs, such as lost property values. Moreover,
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act federal law requires
consideration of the impact of federally funded projects on areas/structures eligible for
listing on the National Register. As a gereral matter, projects such as the Oceanic
Bridge must be evaluated using a full Environmental Impact statement analysis,
which requires that all factors, not just cost, be considered in choosing an alternative.
These types of factors led in a number of instances to a movable bridge being
selected, with that bridge remaining eligible for federal funds. A good example is
the Wilson Bridge replacement bridge project. The existing bridge is a drawbridge
carrying traffic between Oxon Hill, Maryland and Alexandria, Virginia on the heavily
traveled Interstate 495. After years of deliberation and several lawsuits, a moveable
bridge was selected to minimize impact on historic resources in Alexandria and on
other resources in the region. Because the effect of a drawbridge
opening on such a key, heavily-traveled artery is significant, the selection of a
drawbridge is an excellent example of just how important such considerations are
in this process. To minimize this impact, the new spans are somewhat higher than
the old span, so that fewer openings will be needed.
The Oceanic Bridge is a good example of a project where the costs — in the form of
lost property values, damage to an historic environment, and loss of aesthetic resources —
outweigh the very small cost differential, as well as the effect on navigation.
With respect to namigation resources, this is true because (a) the Navesink
is not a commercial traffic waterway, and (b) even the proposed high bridge would not
accommodate all existing recreational boat traffic. Moreover, the Oceanic Bridge
bascule bridge is not a critical traffic bottleneck, since it carries primarily local
traffic on a moderate-speed highway.
As a practical matter, what this suggests is that (a) We should hire an historic
resources consultant, (b) Evaluate property damage, and (c) (most importantly) Hire a resource economist
to evaluate the damage to the scenic values. This last factor
alone would overwhelm the cost savings attributed to a fixed span.