Residents who have been clamoring for the right to drive onto the barrier island to do more than retrieve a few belongings will finally get that opportunity beginning Monday.
Residents of Pelican Island, South Seaside Park, Seaside Park and Seaside Heights all have been granted permission to drive into those areas, officials announced, beginning at 8 a.m. They will have until 3 p.m. to work at their homes, winterizing, removing belongings and working on damage within their homes.
All civilians must be off the island by 3 p.m., officials say. The program will continue daily as long as there are no problems, they said.
There will be checkpoints and every person attempting to enter will need identification proving residency, officials said.
Rules for each town differ slightly, primarily regarding registration, according to information posted on the towns' websites and Facebook pages. The common points, however, are that residents entering the island must stay in the right lane of the Mathis Bridge, which reopened to traffic over the weekend. There will be police officers directing traffic to specific towns.
It was also noted that people attempting to stray into other areas -- especially Ortley Beach -- will be subject to arrest.
Contractors and insurance adjusters may accompany homeowners and/or residents, officials said.
Mayor William Akers of Seaside Heights said in his note to residents, "I must stress that if we do not get massive cooperation, this plan will be ended as soon as it was started."
Seaside Heights: Akers said there is a temporary speed limit in town of 5 miles per hour and drivers should consider every intersection a four-way stop. "There are no traffic signals operating and many of the street signs are missing or mis-directed," he said. "Again, please show respect and consideration while in town so that this program can continue and everyone can start the re-building process."
Seaside Park: According to the borough's website, upon entry into the borough residents will be directed to a registration point. A r-entry sticker will be provided to approved residents and homeowners and vehicles displaying a re-entry sticker will be granted access into Seaside Park only. They will have unrestricted access to Seaside Park between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Vehicles having a re-entry sticker must accompany and escort any contractor, plumber or inspector/adjuster personally.
South Seaside Park: Residents must have identification and proof of residency available to avoid traffic delays. As you cross the bridge stay in the right lane past the Dock Outfitters, until a police officer approaches to check your information. At 14th Avenue/Central Boulevard you will reach a second checkpoint, where you will receive a registration form that you must complete prior to leaving the island. It must be returned to the command post at Central Boulevard/24th Avenue, in front of Island Beach State Park, at which time you will receive a permit sticker for future returns.
If you wish to have a contractor or insurance adjuster come in, you must include their information n the registration form. If you do not have the information when you first receive the form, you will be permitted to take an additional registration form to complete at a later date. This needs to be handed in to a Berkeley Township officer, faxed to 732-341-3405, or delivered to Berkeley Township Headquarters 631 Pinewald Keswick Rd Bayville, NJ 08721.
Only residence vehicles, no contractors, will be given the permit stickers to have regular access to the island.
Pelican Island: Residents who live on the south side will cross the bridge in the right lane and turn right onto Catalina/Route 37. You will be checked by a Berkeley Township officer at this point. You are to be completely off Route 37 so as to not cause a traffic issue. Again, have your credentials ready. When you exit Pelican Island, you need to go to the Berkeley Township Command Post, at the corner of Central Boulevard and 24th Avenue, in front of Island Beach State Park, to fill out the registration paperwork and receive your sticker for future visits. The traffic light at Route 37/Catalina is not functioning and no left-hand turns will be permitted from Pelican Island.
Berkeley Township residents who live on the north side of Pelican Island should follow the directions for South Seaside Park residents.
Permit stickers must be affixed to your windshield.
Toms River residents of Pelican Island must have your proof of residency ready so it will not cause a traffic issue on the highway.
Berkeley residents also can obtain sticker permits and registration forms from the Records Bureau of the Berkeley Township Police Department, 631 Pinewald-Keswick Road - Bayville, NJ 08721, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.