ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - The Borough of Atlantic Highlands announced that a section of the Bayshore trail will be closed indefinitely due to extensive damage to a pedestrian bridge. The 1.4 mile extension of the Monmouth County Park System trail connects the Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor to Pompamora Park in Highlands. The surface is hard-packed cinder and sand. The extension contains four boardwalks and a bridge that traverses several marshy areas.
In an e-mail message, Borough Clerk Dwayne Harris wrote:"Due to extensive damage to one of the pedestrian bridges along the Bayshore Trail, the trail will be closed indefinitely. Please remain off of the trail until repairs have been made. There is currently no anticipated time to re-open the trail but updates will be posed on the Borough website."
photos courtesy Monmouth County Park System
The trail is built on an abandoned railroad line and was opened to the public on April 25, 2009. The cost for the project totaled $1.2 million. $566K thousand came via a NJDOT grant, $300k from a Monmouth County bike way grant, $125K from the Monmouth County Open Space program, and $300k from Atlantic Highlands taxpayers.
The Nor'easter of March 2010 was particularly harsh on the trail which required repairs. Insurance claims were filed. During the summer, the council approved $15,000 for a redesign of the trail and appointed Birdsall Engineering to draw up the plans. The project then went out to bid.
In December 2010, Councilman Jack Archibald wrote:
"Atlantic Highlands has turned the trail over to the Monmouth County Park System. This has been the long term goal of the trail, to allow Atlantic Highlands to construct our portion of the Trail as we see fit, and to have the County maintain the Trail going forward. It should be noted that Atlantic Highlands was the only municipality to build and fund our portion of the trail. The County was reluctant to fix the Trail after the storm because they didn’t possess the deeds, but now the paperwork has been turned over to the County.
"With a small exception from the Harbor to the dredge pit, the maintenance and patrol of the Trail is up to the County Park System. Park System rangers will make it part of their patrol routine and the maintenance workers will also be present on the Trail. Harbor personnel will still partner with the Park System to perform routine maintenance, but the costs for the Trail are solely the County responsibility."
The area is in the steep slope zone of the borough.
Karen Livingstone of the Monmouth County Park System said heavy rains two weeks ago caused a mudslide which came down on the pedestrian bridge. She said the trail will be closed for a while. "We don't have a timetable. It is still being evaluated." The County must first remove mud and debris from the bridge before evaluating the structure. The trail is at the foot of the steep slope area of Atlantic Highlands. Engineers must also look at the terrain.
The Monmouth County Park Commission will meet on June 11th.