OCEAN CITY — The Route 52 causeway’s new twin fishing piers are a hit with fishermen, even if the flounder fishing is hit or miss so far.
The bridges linking Ocean City and Somers Point are nearly completed after four years and $400 million. The state built two piers on the west side of the bridges, accessible both from Ocean City or Somers Point. While work continues on the bridges, fishermen have been enjoying their first taste of what Ocean City expects will become a popular tourist attraction.
“They spent a lot of money on this,” fisherman Tom Muller, 59, of Gloucester Township, said as he reclined in a beach chair and watched his fishing line. “The fishing piers were a good idea.”
Charles Dispoto, 52, of Hammonton, visited his father in Ocean City before coming to the pier to try his luck at “anything that swims.”
The fish were not biting the end of his line, but he was cheerful.
“I think they did a great job. It’s going to help Ocean City’s economy and the entire Somers Point area. I can remember many times getting caught at the old bridge openings,” he said.
Fishermen have have had good things to say about the piers when visiting Brennan Marine in Somers Point, employee Tom Crist said.
“I’m confident that of the few things politicians do right, that’s one of them,” Crist said. “The fishermen we talk to like them very much. They’re easy to get to, well lighted and with lots of space to fish.”
Stephen Walsh, 33, of Williamsburg, Va., rode his bicycle to the fishing piers from his parents’ home in Somers Point. The majority of the span’s dedicated bike path remained closed for construction of the new Welcome Center, but Walsh said he liked what he saw.
“Having recreation for people today is huge. It’s something our society needs. Now people will be able to ride all the way to the beach,” he said. “It’s beautiful. The only way you get this kind of view is by being out on a boat.”
The piers run parallel to the bridge both north and south off a mid-span exit. They have their own parking lots. There are no benches or water fountains so fishermen bring their own beach chairs and coolers of drinks.
The piers are adorned with decorative street lamps so fishermen can take advantage of night fishing.
Some fishermen said turning left out of the pier parking lots back onto the causeway will be tricky in heavy traffic, but the same could be said about many unregulated intersections near the shore in the summer.
Perhaps the best attraction, besides the prospect of catching fish, is the unobstructed panoramic view of the Great Egg Harbor Bay. It’s a perspective not even drivers can appreciate while crossing the span. But on the fishing piers, visitors have time to soak in the acres of blue water leading to verdant green marshes.
“It’s awesome,” said Brian Cardillo, 54, of West Deptford Township. “It’s beautiful here. Everything about it — they did a fabulous job.”
Well, perhaps not everything. One detail missing was restrooms, a point every fisherman mentioned on a recent visit.
“They need some portable restrooms here,” Cardillo said.
Portable restrooms were not included in the contract for the project, state Department of Transportation spokesman Timothy Greeley said. So fishermen will have to make other accommodations in Somers Point or Ocean City until the nearby Welcome Center opens in October.
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