MBIA: Glimmer Glass Bridge 'Has Got to Go'
Manasquan Beach Improvement Association asks council to ramp up pressure on county to replace decaying historic bridge
The Glimmer Glass Bridge on Fisk Avenue between Manasquan and Brielle has got to go, according to one organization and several locals.
The wooden drawbridge built more than 100 years ago is decaying from the inside out and poses a danger to drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, according to Al Sauer of the Manasquan Beach Improvement Association.
Sauer at Monday's Manasquan Borough Council meeting pleaded with the governing body to put pressure on the county, which controls the bridge, to move forward on a replacement project that, he said, for nearly two decades has remained in the planning stages.
Nearly every resident who spoke following Sauer's presentation before a standing-room-only crowd inside council chambers agreed that the bridge, added to the state and federal historic registry in 2008, is a disaster waiting to happen.
“The most important thing that I think everybody has to recognize is that the studies that have been done all show that that bridge cannot be saved. That bridge has to be torn down — every piece of it — and replaced,” Sauer said.
Members of the governing body pledged to ramp up pressure on the county Board of Chosen Freeholders in order to get the process moving again.
“In my opinion, there is no excuse for how long this has taken on the county level to address what is a real safety concern," Councilman Michael Mangan said.
Replacing the bridge apparently wouldn't affect its listing on the historic registries since the bridge's technology, a rolling counterweight design, and aesthetics could be preserved, Sauer said.
A county plan hatched several years ago to reconstruct the bridge would have maintained those features, he said.
According to a county report issued in 2008, replacing the bridge while maintaining the current aesthetics and technology would cost $11.1 million.
Countless repairs and replacements on the bridge since it was completely rebuilt in 1950 have left just two original pieces — the sheaves, or wheels, at the top that handle the drawstrings, Sauer said.
A new bridge also would alleviate severe traffic delays associated with the current bridge's slow openings and closings, he said.
Since the bridge is so old and fragile, operators must work at a near snail's pace to prevent further damage, Sauer said.
“Anybody who uses that bridge regularly knows what we’re talking about in putting up with those delays," he said.
The bridge's 3-ton limit prevents large emergency vehicles and other trucks from crossing, cutting off the main access to the area of town south of Brielle Road, Sauer said.
Council President Ed Donovan said Brielle first-responders flat-out refuse to cross the bridge.
The MBIA favors using modern engineering materials, not wood, to rebuild the bridge, mainly because common wood preservatives contain arsenic, which could find its way into the waters below, Sauer said.
But the lifespan of a wooden bridge is only 35-40 years, while the estimated life of the proposed bridge would be roughly 75 years, he said.
The county to date has spent $700,000 on studies, and never took action after authorizing $1 million for a replacement project in 1994, Sauer said.
“What we’ve been doing is fiddling as Rome burns," he said. “We’re studying it to death. And we’ve got to move on and start doing something.”