Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 07/24/07
Fierce opposition turned out at the Department of Transportation meetings in Sea Bright and Highlands on June 21 concerning the Route 36 bridge replacement fiasco as reported by the Asbury Park Press. Hopefully it put to rest any unfounded speculation that it is just a "small vocal minority" opposed to this DOT boondoggle.
Amazingly, the DOT representatives seemed ill-prepared to defend their position and stave off concerns, or to answer questions convincingly. Power-point images shown were obviously framed and tweaked to show the proposed new bridge from the least offensive angles.
The DOT gave residents opposed to this project even more ammunition by stating on the record that the new bridge would look like the NJ Turnpike-style monstrosities that are the Victory Bridge over the Raritan River or the Route 35 bridge over the Shark River. It is that exact concern that no serious thought has been given to maintaining the character and sense of place of the surrounding area in the design of this project that has everyone so fired up.
Sure we'd like to save the historic bridge and see it restored to last another 75 years. We blame the DOT for allowing the bridge to deteriorate by not maintaining it. But if the DOT had given thoughtful consideration to the surroundings and character of the communities affected, they wouldn't find themselves in nearly as tough a predicament as they now face if in fact the bridge is beyond repair, which has still not been adequately proved. They did not present alternate design solutions to the affected municipalities as required. They have a total disregard for those of us who will have to live with this nightmare of a bridge while both our quality of life and property values erode.
The fight is not over. I urge anyone who has an interest in seeing the history and character of our corner of the Jersey Shore respected to join the cause of Citizens for Rational Coastal Development.