New Jersey Roads - US 9/South Jersey Meet - Beesley's Point Bridge Tour
Closed US 9: Beesley's Point Bridge tour (12/18/10)
All photos are from the south half of the bridge because the draw span is permanently open now; the machinery has degraded such that it can get stuck in position. Better to be stuck open than stuck closed when marine traffic needs to get through.
Geodetic survey marker from 2000, only a few years before the bridge just to the north closed in a semi-permanent fashion.
Looking northward with progressively deeper zoom from the southwest shore of the bridge, where the road embankment is held up with a primitive timber wall. The bridge is held up by the rusted iron beams sitting on wooden piles, not the large concrete columns underneath.
Starting the walk onto the bridge. The meet participants all started out on the south shore, taking photos, looking out at the bridge in a longing but sad way, and finally I just decided to walk out there. Even though you can't see as much in winter, I really don't want to have to come back here again just because I wimped out a second time. Why is there only snow on the bridge? Ever seen those "Bridge Freezes Before Road Surface" signs? Ground temperatures take a lot longer to change than air temperatures, so if it's 30 out but 35 in the ground, any part of the road on the ground will clear of snow but any part on the air (i.e. on a bridge) won't. The More You Know. (Okay, so why has it started to melt on the west side of the bridge but not the east? Probably the wind, though it could be helped along by the bridge keeper driving on that side every day.)
The east side of the bridge, with the Garden State Parkway in the background carrying US 9 for the time being.
And a view to the west of a beautiful industrial smokestack.
The condition of the bridge deck at various points. The steel plate (mouth added for comedic effect) has rusted through the bottom and melted the snow on top thanks to salt water in the air, which obviously has torn a hole in the deck underneath the steel plate as well. All of these issues point to how difficult a bridge repair job would be - and it gets more difficult every year it's put off.
At this point, there was no turning back, even though we saw that the toll booth was manned. Now, there's no good reason to stick a guy inside a tollbooth on a closed highway, on a drawbridge that doesn't operate its draw span, except as security. Or, apparently, as a caretaker. Jack is semi-retired but happily comes down to the bridge to watch videos and chat with the occasional passer-by. In nicer weather, people jog or walk their dogs out to midspan, but there certainly aren't regular road enthusiast parades. So, while out there, we had an engaging and informative time chatting with Jack about the bridge's past, present, and potential future, why he still comes out this way to sit on a bridge, and less related topics. I also took a few photos:
Various details of midspan's tollbooth and the related drawbridge operating booth. Gates are sideways because they fit on the page better that way. I wonder if the same person staffs both places when the bridge is open, or if a separate operator is necessary? The bridge seems bucolic enough that you wouldn't need more than one person, but I've crossed Dingman's Bridge and encountered two collectors in the same tollbooth (something you could never fit here).
The reflector is on the railing that begins the draw span, and the second photo looks through to the other side. I guess there needs to be an operating booth down on water level just in case something goes wrong down there or there needs to be a bridge-to-boat conversation. You can clearly see the rusted condition of the draw apparatus, especially the rotating wheels.
Walking back from the center of the bridge to the southern shore. I stick the camera out along the way to peek at the wooden piers from a top perspective. Okay, so the photos were really taken as we were walking out, which is why everyone looks so trepidatious and happens to be facing toward me.
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