Take a close look at Main Street in Asbury Park. What you see today will look very different in two years once the long-planned “Streetscape” of the road, also known as State Highway 71, is completed.
Details of the project were announced at a City Hall News Conference by the state Transportation Commissioner, Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, joined by area legislators and city officials, who outlined how the project will dramatically change Asbury Park’s main thoroughfare.
Calling the project “A Big Deal,” the commissioner said the project is moving forward thanks to $100 million dollars from the Federal Highway Administration, one of 28 New Jersey projects being funded by the Federal Grant. The grant will also allow the work to begin six months to a year earlier than was planned.
In 2017 Asbury Park received a $237,000 Transportation Alternatives Program, (TAP) grant to make Streetscape improvements to Main Street/Route 71 from Springwood Avenue north to Deal Lake Drive and along Deal Lake Drive from Main Street to Park Avenue. The project includes the installation of 20 benches, 112 bike racks and the planting of 116 trees. As an added bonus, the Commissioner said the state will provide design assistance to the city at no additional cost.
Asbury Park Transportation Coordinator Mike Micheal Manzella said work will start in the spring or summer of 2020. He said road work has been completed from Asbury Avenue to Deal Lake Drive, leaving the southern part from Springwood to Asbury Ave. for completion in 2020
Sen. Vin Gopal also thanked the Commissioner and said the Commissioner has always been very responsive to the needs of the people in the 18 towns in the 11th district. Assemblywoman Joann Downey said “It’s amazing what Asbury Park has been doing” and her fellow Assembly member Eric Houghtaling said he is excited by “The rise and fall and then the rise again of Asbury Park.”
Mayor John Moor introduced the Commissioner and added a personal note that he and commissioner Gutierrez-Scacccetti have a shared history in Asbury Park since he learned of her childhood experiences here. The commissioner, a Newark native, recalled visiting Asbury Park as a child on family vacations, staying at the Empress Motel and visiting the boardwalk and Criterion Candies, and eating at Freda’s Restaurant.