If you’re not angry enough about the penitentiary-grade fence that now protects the Garden State Parkway bridge across Great Egg Harbor Bay from attack by sand crabs and terrapins, read on.
The barbed wire-topped fence, which New Jersey Turnpike authority officials assure us is of such high grade that it cannot easily be cut through, protects the bridge from terrorist attacks — except, or course, from terrorists who know how to drive, or who can use a ladder, or a kayak, or a rowboat, or who have taken swimming lessons.
Many drivers who use the bridge are upset that the fence mars one of the most beautiful scenic vistas in southern New Jersey. You still have a great view from the top of the bridge, but as you come down onto Drag Island, heading north, you’re suddenly driving through what looks like an access road to a concentration camp.
Installing the fence at the Great Egg Harbor Bay bridge cost $250,000. And you were wondering why parkway tolls went up 50 percent this month? The work went to a Hackensack contractor who made $24,100 in political contributions in 2010.
But the most infuriating thing about this fence isn’t that it’s unnecessary, or that it would be laughably ineffective as a deterrent to any determined mischief maker — much less a terrorist — or that it is an example of how readily government agencies waste public money.
Let’s not forget that by 2016 the turnpike authority plans to replace the southbound parkway bridge, which was built in 1955. To do that, they will first build a new southbound span.
If you take a look at Drag Island as you drive across it, you can clearly see that there is nowhere that a new span could be placed that wouldn’t require demolishing one side of this fence.
So that means that within four or five years, the fence will either be trashed or taken down and rebuilt, at a cost of many more thousands of dollars. It’s hard to say which alternative is worse.