O’HERN, AZZOLINA GET NAME HONORS

ohern-stationThe Red Bank train station and the Route 36 Highlands-Sea Bright bridge, below, have new names. (Click to enlarge)

azzolina-bridge1

Two prominent pieces of public infrastructure – one, some 140 years old, the other brand-new – have officially been renamed for Red Bank-area leaders.

Governor Chris Christie has signed bills naming the century-old Red Bank rail station for the late borough mayor and state Supreme Court Justice Daniel O’Hern and dubbing a new bridge across the Shrewsbury River for the late  Joe Azzolina, the longtime state Assemblyman from Middletown.

State Senator Jennifer Beck, who pushed for both, announced the changes Monday.

The rail stop, which O’Hern once helped repaint, is slated for a facelift that NJ Transit officials say could take up to four years to complete and cost $2 million. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

O’Hern served as acting mayor in 1966, and as mayor from 1969 to 1978. He later spent nearly two decades on the state Supreme Court. Red Bank’s Locust Avenue, where O’Hern grew up, was “ceremonially” renamed for him in 2009.

The Route 36 Highlands-Sea Bright bridge, completed early this year, is now the Captain Joseph Azzolina Memorial Bridge, said Beck, who worked on Azzolina’s staff during his long stint in the Assembly. Azzolina grew up in Highlands, served in the Navy in the Korean conflict and eventually achieved the rank of captain, serving on the battleship the USS New Jersey when it was off the shore of Lebanon during the Beirut crisis. A supermarket executive, he served three separate stints as an assemblyman, totaling 22 years in that chamber, as well as a two-year term in the state Senate

O’Hern died in 2009, and Azzolina died in 2010.