The Ocean Avenue Shark River Bridge connecting Belmar and Avon will close until May for emergency repairs after a key part of the bridge was found to be severely deteriorated during an inspection.

The Monmouth County Department of Public and Works said it discovered during a routine inspection that the steel pinions, which support the bridge when it opens and closes, was in need of immediate repair. Vehicles and pedestrians will not be able to use the bridge during the closure. Limited marine traffic will be permitted.

“We understand the inconvenience a closure of this duration represents to those who travel in and around the impacted communities, but the safety of our residents and visitors remains our top priority. We appreciate the patience of those who travel on the Bridge, as this reconstruction is completed," Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone said in a written statement.

Arnone expects the bridge to be "fully operational in advance of the summer season" but did not give an exact date.

The bridge was built in 1936 and was rehabilitated in 1988.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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