SEA BRIGHT RELUCTANTLY OKS BRIDGE PLAN

Borough officials said they would prefer that the new bridge be north of the existing span instead of south. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Sea Bright approved a preliminary design for a new Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge over the Shrewsbury River Tuesday night, even though it’s not one some of them would have preferred.

The proposed span, a drawbridge like the existing 62-year-old structure, would follow a path about 30 feet south of the current bridge, resulting in the demolition of a building that’s home to a Dunkin’ Donuts and a vacant filling station on Ocean Avenue.

The proposed bridge would be aligned south of the existing span, seen in white in this concept drawing. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

The design was first shown to the public in January, when Monmouth County Engineer Joe Ettore held a public information session to gather feedback from borough residents. Ettore said then that although the construction of the bridge is eight to ten years away, planning needs to be put in motion now in order to keep development on schedule.

The replacement bridge, labeled ‘3F’ by the engineers, is expected to cost nearly $58 million. Ettore is hoping to land federal funding for the project, he has said.

County freeholders and the Borough of Rumson have since given approval of the plan, according to Mayor Dina Long, who said the only piece left in the puzzle was Sea Bright’s thumb’s-up, which some gave reluctantly.

“We didn’t have much of a choice,” Long said. “They need our approval to move forward. We don’t like it, but we’re not going to oppose it.”

“Out of the four plans originally conceived by the county, this was the one they eventually approved,” said Council President Brian Kelly. “It definitely wasn’t our first choice, but we agreed to it.”

Councilman Marc Leckstein was the most vocal opponent of the plan, stating for the record that he did not consent to the plan but abstaining from the council vote.

“It should have been to the north,” Leckstein said, post-meeting. “That’s what Sea Bright wanted originally, and I think it’s regrettable that it’s positioned to the south.”

A northerly path for the roadway, Route 520, would have landed the bridge at the Anchorage Apartments site.

“The property owner of Anchorage had stood up at one point and said that they wanted the bridge to be placed in the north,” Leckstein said. “To me, it seems like you have a willing property owner there. Why take away a viable business when you can take away property from someone who wants it taken away?”

In January, county representatives assured the town that they would work with Dunkin’ Donuts to relocate their business to another suitable location in Sea Bright. Franchise owner Dominic Sequeira told redbankgreen at the time that he would accept whatever came his way, as long as he gets to keep his business in town.