MANCHESTER – Ocean County officials took shovel in hand and marked the territory of a new facility on Ridgeway Boulevard recently.
The facility will house the Ocean County Department of Transportation. Members of the Ocean County Freeholders formally noted the occasion and the start of a new era for OceanRide.
“The new facility, which will house drivers, office staff and equipment, will afford the department greater operational efficiencies by being located closer to the senior communities it serves in Whiting, Manchester, Toms River, Jackson and Lakewood townships,” said Ocean County Freeholder Gary Quinn. Quinn serves as liaison to the county Transportation Department which operates Ocean Ride. He added that by moving the department off of Route 9 in Toms River and away from the congestion, it will allow for easier departures and returns for the vehicles that are key to the operation.
With work completed on the new Ocean County Road Department Garage on the site, work to construct the new Ocean Ride facility recently at Ocean County’s Western Complex has begun.
“Ocean County’s Western Complex serves as the new home to some of Ocean County Government’s most essential services,” Ocean County Freeholder Director Virginia E. Haines said. “Most recently, a new Road Department Garage was completed at the site. The new structure is housing road department equipment, two maintenance crews and two specialty crews. The new road department facility also includes a salt dome.”
Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, who serves as liaison to the County Road Department said the department is tasked with maintaining more than 1,600 county lane miles annually from paving to snow removal.
Freeholder Little added, “the department also maintains storm drainage systems throughout the County providing a safety net and protection for Barnegat Bay.”
The new Transportation Department facility includes a 9,000 square foot office building in addition to a 100 foot by 180 foot garage area with 10 bays that will be operated by the Ocean County Department of Vehicle Services.
“Vehicle Services maintains our fleet of buses and vehicles,” Quinn said. “This coordination is essential in keeping our vehicles in good working condition which makes certain our residents are traveling safely around the County.”
The transportation garage will be outfitted with numerous lifts, a welding bay, oil dispensing system, compressed air throughout for tools, vehicle exhaust system, and spare parts storage.
The County also has plans of installing drive-thru snow removal equipment to brush the snow off the tops of buses with ease.
David Fitzgerald, the director of the Ocean County Transportation said, “construction of this state of the art facility is just another example of the unwavering commitment from the Board of Freeholders to support transportation’s effort to provide a high level of service to the senior and disabled residents of Ocean County.”
Quinn noted that Ocean Ride started 42 years ago. It now provides over 325,000 trips helping residents get around Ocean County. The service provides reserve-a-ride and fixed bus routes. In 2018, it traveled more than 1.7 million miles.
“These new facilities will help in our efforts to provide quality services far into the future,” he said. “This service provides a lifeline for many of our residents that would be homebound if they couldn’t access public transportation to get to doctor’s appointments or shopping trips.
“This is a service that makes a significant difference in the lives of many of our residents,” he said. “And while the bricks and mortar will be new, the professionalism and dedication of the staffs in these departments has been a long time tradition that serves as the centerpiece that makes these services so beneficial.”
Construction is expected to be completed in the spring of 2020. The facility will be powered by solar energy panels which will be located on the roof and there also will be a backup natural gas operated generator.
Ben Harvey Construction was the contractor for the Road Department garage. Arthur J. Ogren, Inc. is the contractor for the Transportation facility.