Atlantic County officials have decided to go with an alternate plan... which will allow one lane of traffic to remain open during the planned re-decking and structural work on Longport's JFK Memorial Bridge.

The project, scheduled to begin after Labor Day and continue until April 2014, will bolster the integrity of the 50-year-old span, a concern heightened by damage during Hurricane Sandy.

The bridge provides an essential link for travel to and from Downbeach along the Longport-Somers Point Boulevard. According to a Federal Highway Administration survey, an average of 7, 595 vehicles use the bridge daily.

The original plan, approved by Egg Harbor Township,called for the bridge to close completely after Labor Day, a situation which would have caused a detour of almost 20 miles for commuters between Longport and Somers Point.

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This alternative option for handling the bridge repairs with one lane open gained almost universal support among those attending a meeting of the Longport Freeholders on Tuesday night.  Several mayors and officials from Atlantic County spoke about the inconveniece to residents, and possibly for emergency vehicles, if the JFK Bridge was to be completely closed.

There will be a price, however, for keeping one lane of traffic moving during the bridge repairs. Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson estimated $50,000 in additional expence will be added to the project's estimated $3.1 million cost.