Deciding the Fate of the Glimmer Glass Bridge

In the past five years, Manasquan's bridge, built in 1883, endured two repairs. Some residents hope to save the structure. Monmouth County weighs the options.

glimmer glass bridge
Courtesy of Judi Benvenuti

Fran Drew is on a mission. The Manasquan resident hopes to save Glimmer Glass Bridge, a historic connector between her town and Brielle. Built in 1883, the bridge crosses the Glimmer Glass, a shallow tidal inlet of the Manasquan River; when raised, the bridge allows ocean access to local boaters.

The span’s unique design features a drawbridge, added in 1938, lifted by a pair of cables connected to a counterweight along an elliptical track. Referred to as a cable lift bascule bridge, it is thought to be the only one of its kind in the United States. 

The bridge closed for more than six months in 2014 after an overweight truck caused damage. After a $2 million repair, the bridge reopened, then closed again in 2017 when an inspection determined its pilings were dangerously deteriorated. Another $3.5 million was spent on repairs and Monmouth County began studying whether to repair or replace the bridge. 

In 2008, when the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places, Drew began working to preserve it. She and her husband, Jack, formed the Committee to Save the Glimmer Glass Bridge, claiming their $5 million plan to preserve it would be more cost-effective than replacement.

“The estimated price tag to replace the bridge is more than $20 million,” says Drew. Citing an engineering study, Drew claims that repairing the existing structure also requires less downtime, approximately 30 weeks during the off-season, as opposed to three full years to replace it. 

The replacement project is currently at a standstill—and the bridge remains open to traffic—while the county confers with the U.S. Coast Guard about options. Asks Fran: “Should we reject all common sense and get rid of a treasure that is in our own back yard?”

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