By Art Gallagher
The Highlands Business Partnership was joined by the Mayor and Council, Senators Joe Kyrillos and Jennifer Beck, Assemblywomen Mary Pat Angelini and Amy Handlin, Freeholders John Curly and Amy Mallet and about 200 members of the community to celebrate the completion of the new bridge that spans the Shrewsbury River between Highlands and Sea Bright with a ceremonial ribbon cutting.
During the ceremony, the Bayshore Marine Task Force, a cooperative of Bayshore area first responders who provide marine emergency services, provided a water display with their equipment.
Mayor Frank Nolan declared, “Highlands is open for business!” Nolan noted that business in Highlands, home to 22 restaurants within one square mile, was off 40% during the three summer seasons that were impacted by the demolition of the 75 year old drawbridge and the construction of the new 65 foot high fixed-span structure.
Senator Joe Kyrillos read a letter from Governor Chris Christie which said in part, “today’s event effectively kicks off the first summer season at the Jersey Shore that vacationers and day trippers will be able to use it (the new bridge). I join with the legislators and community leaders present today in applauding the New Jersey Department of Transportation for completing this project on-time and under-budget. The bridge has made it easier for people to experience what Sandy Hook has to offer, including all of its small businesses that make vital contributions to our State’s rich economy.”
Jay Cosgrove, Vice President of the Business Partnership and an owner of Bahrs Landing expressed the gratitude of the business owners to their loyal customers who battled difficult traffic conditions to quick the establishments afloat during the bridge construction.
Kyrillos said, “This bridge is of incredible importance to the residents of Monmouth County, as well as the many tourists and visitors from which our regional economy benefits,” Senator Kyrillos said. “The old, moveable bridge spanning the Shrewsbury River was in the poorest condition of all moveable bridges in New Jersey. We are fortunate to replace this critical infrastructure. It is a beautiful bridge and more important it is safe and secure and will be of service for generations to come.”
Senator Jennifer Beck said, “We’ve been watching the progress of the construction of the new Highlands Bridge over more than two years,” said Beck, “and it is exciting to see it concluded just in time for the summer beach season, when thousands of people, from New Jersey and beyond, come to visit the shore. Also, as a sponsor of legislation that would name this span in honor of my friend and mentor Captain Joseph Azzolina, which has already passed the State Senate, I have a personal connection to this bridge, and I look forward to seeing the legislation pass the Assembly.”
Beck asked those present to call Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and ask her to post the bill naming the bridge for Azzolina for a vote.