The Route 71 Bridge will be fully operational for the Belmar-Lake Como St. Patrick's Day Parade on Sunday, the state Department of Transportation reported.
Pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic will have full use of the bridge, said DOT Spokesperson Joe Dee.
"It will be opened on Sunday for the parade from 6 a.m. to midnight," Dee said. "That was a provision in the bid specs because we knew that this parade was an important event for the communities."Dee explained that the bridge will be opened for marine traffic, as needed, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and again between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
The project, which began on Oct. 7, includes new barrier gates and rehabilitation of mechanical and electrical systems. The work is being done as part of a $17.8 million improvement project that also includes the Route 88 Bridge over the Inland Waterway in Point Pleasant.
The bridge will close again on Monday so that rehabilitation may continue. The project is scheduled to wrap up by May 1 and despite delays created by winter storms, the DOT is optimistic that they will meet the deadline.
"We're still on target to have the project completed by early May," Dee said. "I think we're in good shape."
(Editor's Note: Look for the Patch team at the parade. We'll be interviewing revelers and taking photos. Be sure to say hello!)