VAN DREW WANTS PARKWAY FENCING TAKEN DOWN AND REUSED SOMEWHERE ELSE BY MEMORIAL DAY : News Room : The Van Drew Team for Change : Jeff Van Drew, Bob Andrzejczak and Bruce Land
VAN DREW WANTS PARKWAY FENCING TAKEN DOWN AND REUSED SOMEWHERE ELSE BY MEMORIAL DAY
Posted: Friday, April 6, 2012 1:00 am | Updated: 8:17 am, Fri Apr 6, 2012.
UPPER TOWNSHIP — A decision on removing the controversial anti-terrorism fence protecting the Great Egg Harbor Bridge prior to the tourist season is expected by the end of the month, state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, said.
Van Drew toured the site Thursday afternoon with Charlie McKenna, Gov. Chris Christie’s chief counsel and a former director of homeland security for the state, and said he pushed for its removal before Memorial Day, or July 4 weekend at the latest.
“A decision should come within a few weeks when the governor gets back from Israel, and we will speak with him and the New Jersey Highway Authority,” Van Drew said.
The fencing cost $250,000 and was part of a larger $7 million project to provide security fencing at 10 of the authority’s bridges
The authority has defended the fence and said the bridge here, where the Garden State Parkway crosses the Great Egg Harbor Bay, is actually the most vulnerable of the 10 that were fortified. The bridge also represents one of the few coastal routes off the Cape Peninsula.
Authority spokesman Thomas Feeney has said the fence could be removed in 2013 as part of a project to replace the southbound lane on the bridge, but Van Drew is pushing to have it done sooner.
The fence has come under attack from taxpayers as a waste of money and the tourism industry for marring the scenic landscape and sending the wrong message to tourists. The Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders in January passed a resolution asking that it be removed because it creates a “disheartening and unwelcoming impression” for shorebound tourists.
Critics point out that somebody wanting to attack the bridge could do so from the water underneath the span, or simply cut through the fence with a decent pair of wire cutters.
“It’s an eyesore and just one of the dumbest things I’ve seen in more than 30 years in government. It has no function. You could canoe from the Tuckahoe Inn with dynamite and have easy access to it,” said Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton.
Van Drew said he and McKenna walked the length of the bridge and looked under the northern and southern sides.
“I believe he understood that it’s not all that effective. We’re definitely getting it down in 2013, but I want to get it down sooner,” Van Drew said.
Having the fence removed by in-house authority labor and reusing it to save toll-payer money are also Van Drew goals that he said McKenna agreed with.
“They know there are areas they can reuse it,” Van Drew said.
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