Hsb_bridge_90307The Route 36 bridge as seen from the entrance to Sandy Hook.

In official terms, a proposed new bridge to replace the one that links Sea Bright with Highlands is a ‘go.’

The New Jersey Department of Transportation says it will start a $124 million replacement project next year, following action by the Highlands Borough Council to remove an open- space designation from a small piece of land needed for the new Route 36 span.

That’s according to today’s Star-Ledger

Advocates for fixing and preserving the existing span, which the Ledger says is “New Jersey’s most deteriorated movable span,” have a lawsuit pending that aims to derail the replacement plan and require the state to fix it. But Jim Parla, co-chairman of Citizens for Rational Coastal Development, tells the newspaper that

residents would be willing to accept an independent firm’s finding that the current drawbridge cannot be saved. If so, he said: “Give us another drawbridge. Give us something that fits in with the landscape here.”

According to the Asbury Park Press, the Highlands council Wednesday voted 3-2 in favor of a resolution supporting the use of Green Acres land — about one-fifth of an acre — for the new span.

Mayor Richard O’Neil and Councilmen John Urbanski and William Caizza voted “yes.” Members Frank Nolan and Nancy Thomas were the dissenters.

“Enough is enough,” Urbanski said. “We gave it a shot and now I believe we have to cut our losses. We have to do what’s best for the town.”

Urbanski said the borough would have had to spend a lot of money in litigation trying to fight the DOT over the bridge design, which many oppose as too high.

From the Ledger:

The new bridge will be a fixed concrete and steel span reaching a height of 65 feet at the center to allow boats to pass. The height of the current 75-year-old bridge is only 35 feet, and it must be raised roughly 700 times a summer to ac commodate boats. Last year, it broke down 14 times, according to DOT records.

The new crossing is expected to take three years to complete, and is to include a protected pedestrian walkway and a bicycle lane.

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