BASS BARN banner
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
9,261 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For whom the bridge tolls
By MICHAEL MILLER Staff Writer, (609) 463-6712, E-Mail

FREE TO GOOD HOME: One toll bridge over the Great Egg Harbor Bay. Handyman special. Great location on a state highway with access to Cape May and Atlantic counties. Loyal customer base.

Owner Stephen Hankin has given up hope of selling his private drawbridge, which operates in the shadow of the Garden State Parkway and links Upper Township to Egg Harbor Township. Now, he is offering the two-lane span gratis to the state Department of Transportation.

"Take it. We don't want it," said Hankin, one of three owners of the state's longest open-water span. "That's our preference. Donate it to the state."

The offer of a free toll bridge might seem appealing in a state that relies on spare change to fuel bridge commissions and highway authorities. But this landmark is a rarity in New Jersey - a toll bridge that loses money.

Hankin said the bridge, built in 1928, is a break-even proposition at best. At worst, it's a white elephant that will need $6 million in repairs during the next 10 years.

Hankin is asking the state to pay those bills. The bridge's owners already spent more than $2 million in state and private money to maintain the bridge for the past five years. In 1997, the company agreed not to sell the span for at least 20 years as part of the $900,000 state grant.

"We are loath to accept any money from the state," Hankin said. "But there are exceptions to the rule. You have a public function this is performing.

"We need $2 million right away," he said.

DOT Commissioner Jack Lettiere said the state is still mulling the gift. He would not say how likely a state takeover would be.

"We'll have a decision shortly," he said.

Hankin said the bridge faces imminent bankruptcy, barring state intervention.

"We'll do our best to keep it open," he said. "But what's the alternative? We'll shut it down."

The bridge sits on Route 9, a busy state highway. Residents in Ocean City and Upper Township rely on the bridge to navigate roads more quickly, especially in the summer when traffic hits a bottleneck at the Somers Point toll plaza. The Upper Township Committee passed a resolution last week urging the state to pay for bridge repairs. Many residents in Marmora and Beesleys Point rely on the bridge for quicker access to the nearest hospital, Shore Memorial in Somers Point.

Local boaters, too, depend on the drawbridge to get to and from the tidal estuaries in Cape May and Atlantic counties. Marine businesses are not taking the bridge's continued operations for granted.

Yank Marine, a boat-building and repair shop on the Tuckahoe River, launched a letter-writing campaign last month to alert lawmakers and the U.S. Coast Guard about the possibility of the bridge's closing. Nearly a dozen businesses would be trapped in the bay if the drawbridge were closed, Bette Jean Wyers said.

"We just want it to stay open, whether it's the state or a private company," she said.

The U.S. Coast Guard sent Hankin a letter warning that any bridge closure was unacceptable and would lead to $1,100 fines for each day it is closed.

But Hankin said those penalties would not apply under bankruptcy law.

"Please understand that this is really the last thing the Bridge Company wants to do," Hankin wrote in a March 31 letter to the Coast Guard. "Perhaps you have some alternative to suggest."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,108 Posts
Ok, South Jersey Transportation Authority, it's your turn...Commissioner Iannone, pony up for Cape May County, borrow staff from Cape May County Bridge Commission as temporary toll takers.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
9,261 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Originally posted by eelball:
strikes,
That's the first thing that popped into my mind this morning while reading the paper.
Yep, Can You Imagine.Put Some Lights On That
Baby..Look Out ;)
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
9,261 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Beesleys Point span a bridge over troubled waters By MICHAEL MILLER
Staff Writer, (609) 463-6712/ACPRESS


UPPER TOWNSHIP - The state told a private bridge company Monday to keep the Beesleys Point span open or repay nearly $1 million to taxpayers.

The state Department of Transportation, or DOT, also rejected an offer to take the bridge - for free.

In a letter Monday to the bridge owners, DOT Commissioner Jack Lettiere said he would rather close the bridge altogether than invest more taxpayer money to benefit a private enterprise.

"NJDOT does not have the financial means to continue to underwrite repairs on a privately owned bridge, which does not have a unique or extraordinary public purpose," Lettiere wrote.

Lettiere said the company was obligated to ensure safe marine traffic through the drawbridge if the span closes. The DOT and State Police are ready to post detour signs and divert motorists now, he said.

Bridge co-owner Stephen Hankin had asked the state for $2 million to make immediate repairs. He also invited the state - or anyone else - to take over the struggling bridge's operations.

In 1997, the state spent $900,000 for repairs with the stipulation that the company keep the span running for 20 years. Under the agreement, the bridge company would have to repay the grant with 2 percent interest if the bridge closes.

Hankin declined to comment on the state's response Monday. In an interview last month, he said the company was facing the prospect of filing for bankruptcy.

DOT officials on Monday said the state has $40 billion worth of projects that take priority over any of New Jersey's three privately owned spans. If the state were to assume ownership, the bridge would need $15 million in immediate repairs and $5 million in electrical upgrades to bring it up to state code, officials said.

Any municipal or county agency that took over the bridge would face a similar obligation, the state said.

The Upper Township Committee endorsed the company's fund-raising efforts. But Mayor Richard Palombo said the committee was acting on behalf of beleaguered motorists who already face summer gridlock in Marmora.

When construction begins on the Route 52 causeway between Somers Point and Ocean City, many motorists likely will cut through Upper Township's Roosevelt Boulevard. Roosevelt Boulevard at Route 9 is already the busiest county intersection in Cape May County.

Palombo urged the state to spend the $20 million in bridge repairs on a full interchange at Seaville's Exit 20 of the Garden State Parkway.

"I'm disappointed. We
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
126 Posts
This bridge is right in my back yard i can see it from my window! Great fishing spot and if the bridge had lights the whole way across it be the new Great Egg hot spot. I would hate to see the bridge go hopefully the state and the bridge owners can work something out im keeping my fingers crossed!
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top