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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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Townsends Inlet Bridge: Open, Closed, Who Knows?

Townsend's Inlet Bridge.

By Camille Sailer

SEA ISLE CITY – During the public comment portion of the city council meeting Oct. 25, a resident from Strathmere brought forward an issue that resonated with both council members and the general public alike: who can ever predict if the Townsends Inlet bridge will be open, and if so, for how long?
The Strathmere resident explained that he is “the ‘Uber’ driver for my grandchildren who go to school in Avalon.” That means that issues with the bridge can sometimes be a hassle.
“Recently, I’ve had to turn back three times from the Townsend Inlet bridge because it was closed with absolutely no warning. That means coming all the way back to the JFK (Boulevard) intersection in Sea Isle which adds on at least eight miles to the trip, and a lot of time,” he explained. “When this happens, my grandchildren are late from school, everyone’s stressed, and I get scolded.”
He signed up for automatic notifications about the bridge, but those are inaccurate, he says. 
“Any signs that may alert drivers that are in place certainly are not visible. Warning lights about the bridge closing are not operational. This situation is not only a waste of time but a serious safety issue as well. What happens if emergency vehicles are also unaware of the bridge’s open or closed status,” he asked. 
In concluding his public comments, the resident recommended that notification lighting and signage be installed at JFK Boulevard, so drivers do not proceed southbound if the bridge is closed.
It seemed that bringing the issue to the attention of the council struck a nerve. Governing body members and many in attendance nodded their agreement with his explanation of the situation.
Council members, in their turn, contributed their own experiences of getting to the bridge and not having had a clue that it would be closed. 
Council President Mary Tighe asked who decides to close the bridge. The ensuing conversation determined that it appears to be Avalon. 
“Where before, waves had to come over the rock barrier on the Avalon side, now at the drop of a hat the bridge is closed,” said Tighe. “Even with a small cresting of the waves the bridge is closed and then because it happens so quickly, we don’t get the word,” she added. 
Mayor Leonard Desiderio said that on several occasions, he has had the same experience. He said he would use his role as county commissioner to find a solution.
“We need to find a fix as soon as possible for this aggravating problem which more importantly is also a safety and emergency management concern,” Desiderio said. 
Thoughts? Email csailer@cmcherald.com.

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