The Ocean Avenue footbridge connecting Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach closed this morning, kicking off a two-and-a-half month process to rid the structure of shipworms.
The bridge was originally slated to close at the beginning of March, but foul weather caused delays until today. The Department of Transportation told Sheepshead Bites that they now expect it to reopen on June 1, one week later than the Memorial Day reopening the department previously said.
As Sheepshead Bites was the first to report last month, the bridge is closing to allow contractors to eradicate a shipworm infestation and protect it against future damage.
The department found marine borers in the 135-year-old footbridge as part of a comprehensive survey of all submerged DOT structures that began in 1999, as well as eight other locations across New York City. Marine borers – also known as shipworms – eat wood and undermine its stability.
“If we don’t do this, you won’t have a bridge,” Joannene Kidder, the DOT Division of Bridge’s executive director of community affairs, told Community Board 15 members back in February.
As part of the work, two barges are now stationed alongside the eastern length of the bridge. On the Shore Boulevard side, a small section of the sidewalk has been fenced off as a work area, with bathrooms and a trailer.
The process to treat the wood involves divers power washing the wooden pilings, wrapping them in PVC tubing and making it airtight.