H. George Buckwald Drive to Be Closed for Utility Work
Toms River–If you’re taking classes at Ocean County College or just enjoy cutting through the campus to avoid traffic, plan accordingly, because starting Monday, H. George Buckwald Drive will be closed from September 24 through October 5th. All traffic in and out of the college will be forced to use the College Drive entrance on Hooper Avenue.
From October 8 through October 12, the northbound lane, that’s exiting traffic for those who don’t have a gps, will be closed. You will be able to enter the campus (or cut through the campus) from Church Road during that period.
The utility work is expected to be done by October 15th, leaving many of you reading this with one last question, Who is H. George Buckwald and why is this bridge always closed?
Buckwald was an elected official from Lakewood Township. He served on the Lakewood Township committee from 1964 to 1990 with many turns sitting in the mayor’s chair, seven in total.
He was an Ocean County Freeholder from 1980 to 1989, serving as director in 1983 and 1987.
From 1994 until 2002, he was a trustee of Ocean County College.
Buckwald was also a World War II Navy veteran who earned a Purple Heart during his wartime service in the South Pacific.
He also served as the Kimball Medical Center Foundation chairman and as a hospital trustee. Each year, the foundation awards an H. George Buckwald Humanitarian Award. In 2012, the award was bestowed upon The Lakewood Police Department and in 2011, Jackson Township Mayor Mike Reina received the award.
In November, 2003, the Ocean County replaced the original H. George Buckwald Bridge, after being ordered to remove the newly paved asphalt deck by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The county paved asphalt over the wood deck earlier that year. The bridge has the unique misfortune of passing through the habitat of the protected Pinelands Tree Frog. Chemicals used to melt snow and ice are not permitted to be used, which is why the bridge is often closed in the winter months.
Even before the existing bridge was built, closures had been frequent. The original bridge was made from an exotic Bongossi hardwood, found in Africa and South America. That wood often froze, causing a dangerous driving condition for college students. Because of the moratorium on de-icing the bridge, the County would simply close the bridge until the ice melted, sometimes closed for weeks at a time.
The original Bongossi bridge was built in the late 1980′s, connecting Church Road to the campus.
Buckwald died on February 23, 2005 at the age of 82.