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SAFETY PUSH MAKES IT TO MASTER PLAN

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

bicyclist1Red Bank’s team of two-wheeled street safety activists earned a small victory Monday night in their effort to make borough paths safer and more accessible to bicyclists and pedestrians.

As anticipated, the borough planning board voted to incorporate a lengthy bike and pedestrian safety report and recommendations into Red Bank’s Master Plan, the principle guiding document for development in town.

With the addition of the “Red Bank Bicycle/Pedestrian Planning Project” report, the group’s vision of shared streets and consideration of walkers and non-vehicular riders in future planning is coming into focus.

“We’re hoping (Red Bank) is safer and more community friendly,” said Jenny Rossano, one of the founders of Safe Routes Red Bank, whose members pulled in a non-cash grant to prepare the 106-page report. “We’re hoping people will walk and bike more, and that makes a community better.”

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RED BANK, OTHERS SECURE STREET AID

peters-plPeters Place is one of two borough streets targeted for improvements. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank is among four towns on The Green to pull in a share of $6.6 million in state dollars for street and safety improvement projects, the Department of Transportation announced earlier this week.

The borough will use the $200,000 in municipal aid for upgrades on Peters and Drummond Place, two main cut-throughs for motorists traveling on Broad Street and Maple Avenue, said borough enginer Christine Ballard.

But exactly what those improvements will include isn’t clear at this point, Ballard said.

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SCHARFENBERGER: CARS HAMPERED PLOWING

alexander-drAlexander Drive in Middletown before the snowplows arrived. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The snow removal efforts after last week’s snow-pounding could have been better, but given the conditions, were the best the town could do, says Middletown Committeman Gerry Scharfenberger.

Scharfenberger, who until Sunday’s reorganization meeting was the township’s mayor, delivered a communique over the weekend explaining problems associated with the cleanup.

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HIGHLANDS-SEA BRIGHT BRIDGE OPENS EARLY

36-bridfgeWork on the travel lanes on the Rt. 36 bridge is complete. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The state Department of Transportation is done with the heavy-duty work on the Route 36 Highlands Bridge, and announced Friday that all four lanes were open to traffic.

If you drove over the bridge this weekend, though, you noticed only two were open.

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THE BRIDGE TO SUMMER SUCCESS?

highlands-bridge1The state DOT has plans to ease traffic jams at the Sea Bright-Highlands bridge construction site this summer. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

In 34 years doing business on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright, Steve Garelli says he’s learned one thing when it comes to preparing for the summer rush, which is unofficially upon us this Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s all about the weather,” said Garelli, owner of Steve’s Breakfast & Lunch.

But in recent summers, Garelli, like many other business owners in the seaside hamlet, has learned one more thing: cranes and dump trucks can wipe out abundant sunshine rather quickly.

The construction of the Route 36 Highlands bridge, which connects Highlands to the Sea Bright/Sandy Hook peninsula and funnels traffic into the Gateway National Recreation Area, plagued local businesses last summer and wreaked havoc on motorists.

Now that the 65-foot high bridge is near completion — two lanes are operational, and two more are being added — local merchants are hopeful, but skeptical, that traffic will flow better, both on the road and in their stores this summer.

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RIVER ROAD GETS OVERSTIMULATED

fh-river-rdA stretch of River Road in Fair Haven, seen looking east here, will get upgrades thanks to federal stimulus money. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

How do you get more money from the federal government than you ever dreamed of, or even asked for? Tell ’em you don’t want it, apparently.

It worked for Fair Haven, which, led by anti-stimulus Republican Mayor and Congressional candidate Mike Halfacre, recently received $886,000 in stimulus funds — nearly double the borough’s original request of $480,000 for its “River Road West Streetscape” plan.

The borough was notified by the Federal Highway Administration in February it was receiving the larger-than-asked for sum, Halfacre says on his blog.

The 12th-district House candidate also defends accepting the money, despite his belief that the $787 billion stimulus package passed by President Obama last year was “pork-laden” and would be “ineffective.”

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