EGG HARBOR Twp., N.J. (CBS) – Most people who live near the Great Egg Harbor Bay Bridge on the Garden State Parkway probably don’t worry too much about terrorism. The bridge is in a rural area surrounded by woods and marshes.
But the New Jersey Turnpike Authority is worried enough about terrorism on and around the bridge that it is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a fence lining the highway there that a spokesman says will improve security.
Neighbors think differently.
“Just another way to waste money I guess,” said Bob Villone of Wildwood, N.J.
“I guess it’s somebody’s dream in Trenton,” said Jon Winsett, also of Wildwood. “I thought the governor would be all over this.”
“What are you going to blow up on the Parkway?” said John Baylock. “There’s nothing to blow up here, you’re in the middle of a marsh!”
The fence would not stop anyone on a boat, and neighbors say it would barely slow down anyone on land.
“If you’re into terrorism, you’re going to have bolt cutters, or chain link fence cutters or something like that to be able to access it anyway,” said Winsett.
The Turnpike Authority – which runs the Parkway and the New Jersey Turnpike – is spending nearly $7 million to install similar fencing at ten of its largest bridges. The bridge connecting the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Turnpikes over the Delaware River is among those getting a fence in the Philadelphia area.
Paul Tyahla, Executive Director of the Common Sense Institute of New Jersey says a fence at the Turnpike bridge might make sense, but one at the Great Egg Harbor Bay Bridge certainly does not.
“While I understand the instinct to spend whatever it takes to protect everything in the country, we have a limited amount of homeland security dollars,” he said. “They’re trying to protect different parts of the state in the same way, but different parts of New Jersey aren’t exactly the same.”
Tyahla says this seems like a knee jerk reaction that would have occurred in the years right after September 11 – not a decade later.
Tom Feeney, a spokesman for the Turnpike Authority, would not say why the Great Egg Harbor Bay Bridge was among those selected for a fence, citing security.