The historic wooden footbridge over Sunset Lake in Asbury Park, once a trolley bridge, is scheduled to be repaired soon after it was seriously damaged during Superstorn Sandy.
City Engineer Joseph Cunha said last week that the city received almost $626,000 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding to repair the bridge, which has been closed to pedestrian traffic since the storm.
The bridge, which dates back to the Victorian era, had its pilings up-heaved and planking destroyed during Sandy. The only way for pedestrians to cross Sunset Lake now is to walk around its perimeter or cross at the Grand Avenue Bridge.
Cunha said that another $53,000 was allocated separately by FEMA to make repairs to some the shoreline around the lake, particularly at the eastern end, near Convention Hall.
“One of the bulkheads literally floated out into the lake (during Sandy),” he said.
Cunha said that bid proposals for the project are expected to be issued in March and then it will take another few months to complete the project.
“At that point there will be a new bridge, with lights, railings, footings and decking,” he said.
The State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO) also reviewed the bridge repair application because the bridge is considered an historic structure.
According the Helen Pike’s book “Asbury Park’s Glory Days,” the trolley, and this bridge, date back to the late 19th century and were built to move people from the train station to other east-side destinations. The line was ultimately expected to be connected to Long Branch.
According to old maps, the trolley went down Main Street from the train station (now the James Howard Transportation Center), turned east on Asbury Avenue and then north on Emory Street. It then crossed over Sunset Lake on the wooden bridge and proceeded to Eighth Avenue. At Eighth Avenue it would make a right to Kingsley Street and then head south to Cookman Avenue. It would then go back to the train station and start the loop again.
In 1923 the trolleys were ended and buses took over the routes but the popular advent of the automobile proved to ultimately be the way people wanted to be moved around.