A full three hours before the first of some 4,000 pieces of fireworks is lofted into the sky above the Navesink Tuesday night, the streets of central Red Bank will be closed to vehicular traffic.
Which for the crowd estimated in past years to have been 170,000 strong means one of three things:
Get here early, find a convenient parking spot and relax in town for five or six hours.
Be ready to walk to your chosen viewing spot from outside the downtown.
Make friends with somebody with a boat, pronto.
The streets nearest the river and north of Front Street will be closed to traffic at 4p. These include Maple Avenue, Boat Club Court, Wharf Avenue, Union Street and Riverview Plaza (the street that runs from Wharf past the Riverview emergency room).
At 6p, every street in the downtown district will be off-limits to cars. The zone is defined by Spring Street, East and West Front streets, Maple Avenue, Reckless Place and Harding Road.
At 7p, southbound traffic across the Cooper Bridge (Route 35) will be narrowed to a single lane. At no time, however, will the entire bridge be closed.
As much of a hassle as it may seem getting into town, Red Bank Police Lt. Steve McCarthy says the far bigger crush is the one heading out.
“Traffic coming in is spread out over a longer period of time,” he says. “But everybody wants to leave at one time.”
Red Bank Police will be coordinating with their counterparts in Shrewsbury, Tinton Falls, Fair Haven and Rumson.
For outbound cars headed east, motorists will find Fair Haven police directing traffic to Rumson Road. The idea, says McCarthy, is to soften the impact of traffic in Fair Haven and Rumson as Rumson’s fireworks crowd heads home from the vicinity of the Oceanic Bridge.
“We’re really just trying to manage the flow,” McCarthy says. “If they sent through Fair Haven down River Road, they’d lead them right into Rumson’s crowd.”
Visitors arriving for the Red Bank show by late afternoon should be prepared to walk to their destinations.
One place they should not plan to watch the show from is the Cooper Bridge itself.
“It really is not a viewing area,” McCarthy says, citing safety concerns. He says visitors should plan on find other vantage points.
Will there be enforcement on the bridge?
“We try to discourage it,” is all McCarthy would say.
For unanswered questions about traffic safety, call the Red Bank Police Departments Office of Emergency Management at 732.345.0885.
Here’s the itinerary:
Brian Kirk & the Jirks play in Marine Park.
Koka takes the stage in Riverside Gardens Park.
Jobonanno & the Godsons of Soul take the stage in Marine Park, playing until 10:30p.
Tim McCloone & the Shirleys play in Riverside Gardens Park until 9p.
The rain date is July 4. The forecast for Tuesday night is for partly cloudy skies and a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 8p.
For more info, check out the KaBoom website.