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Jersey Shore business owners hope for successful Memorial Day, despite Route 71 bridge repairs

The Route 71 bridge has been closed in Monmouth County since March for repairs. Traffic is detoured in the area.

Jim Murdoch

May 24, 2024, 4:32 PM

Updated 30 days ago

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Thousands of people visiting two Monmouth County beach towns this weekend will have to use detours to get to where they’re going all because the Route 71 bridge remains closed. Business owners are making the best of the holiday weekend, despite the delays.
The Jersey Shore Chamber of Commerce’s summer kickoff began in Belmar on Friday with a trolley tour of some of the businesses near the bridge detour.
“It’s been frustrating between the bridge and the [recently rainy] weather. We noticed a significant impact to our business,” said Todd Vitalis, the general manager of Klein’s Fish Market in Belmar.
Some shops, like Klein’s Fish Market, have seen their revenue down 25% since the bridge broke in early March.
“The weather the last six weeks didn’t help with the rain that has also been an issue and just the state of New Jersey and business friendliness not the best here, so it’s hit them at all angles,” said Evelyn Mars, executive director of the Jersey Shore Chamber of Commerce.
Under bright blue skies, the view high atop Beach Haus Brewery serves as a positive sign of things to come, despite a string of wet weekends and bridge construction.
“We actually noticed it started a little early this year. Wednesday was nuts. It was the kickoff where traditionally it’s more Thursday Friday but the weather was just so good it even started Monday and Tuesday,” said Dylan Kohan, director of operations of the Beach Haus Brewery.
Those parkway traffic jams heading south all mean one thing – millions of dollars in tourism revenue.
“They really need the walk-in business. They need people living here in New Jersey to drive down the Shore, come here, visit, shop local and support all the tourism here at the Jersey Shore,” said Mars.
“Hopefully they can get this open for the rest of the summer and the sun stays out and I think we will be OK,” said Vitalis.
According to the latest update from the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the bridge will begin rounds of testing this Tuesday and the hope is to have it back fully functioning by May 31.


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