Burlington County freeholders have decided to demolish the 112-year-old Centerton Bridge, citing an engineer's report that it is deteriorating and potentially dangerous.

The two-lane span over the Rancocas Creek, connecting Mount Laurel and Willingboro, was shut in April after county workers noticed structural deficiencies beneath it. At a September meeting, the freeholders tabled a resolution to tear down the bridge after about 50 residents attended and urged the bridge to be rehabilitated or replaced.

After further consideration, the freeholders voted at a meeting Wednesday night to approve the demolition and to pursue state funding to replace it in the future.

"The county engineer found the span posed an imminent hazard," Eric Arpert, county spokesman, said Thursday. Arpert said that there had been vandalism at the bridge and that officials were concerned about "people climbing around on the bridge" and the potential of ice causing further damage. He said the estimated $1.3 million demolition was planned for the next two or three months.

Arpert said that the abutments would be left intact so that it would be easier to obtain environmental permits for a new bridge, which would cost an estimated $20 million.

Freeholder Director Maryann O'Brien has said residents can use the nearby bridge on I-295. She said the Centerton Bridge was not critical but was a "convenient alternative or short cut" for those living in the area.

About 14,000 vehicles used the Centerton Bridge daily, according to county surveys.

856-779-3224@JanHefler