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March 29, 1970: Tunney Bridge From Seaside

Route 37 westbound bridge is second of the pair of bridges connecting Toms River to barrier island, Seaside Heights.

If you've ever decided that, after a fun time in Seaside, you may want to come home, you probably have the Tunney bridge to thank.

The J. Stanley Tunney Bridge was constructed beginning March 29, 1970, to carry westbound traffic into Toms River from Seaside Heights and points on the Barnegat peninsula.

Previously, traffic in both directions had its shorter span, the Thomas A. Mathis Bridge, carrying vehicles except when its drawbridge was open. In 1970, the Tunney bridge opened for westbound traffic, doubling the capacity along the state highway over the Barnegat Bay.

The lanes are also a bit more spacious than the eastbound ones on the Mathis. It's a total of 530 feet long, hopping through areas governed by Seaside Heights, Berkeley Township and Toms River. Yet, tending to potholes or overseeing renovation is the purview of the state Department of Transportation, since Route 37 is a state highway.

And, being tall enough to accommodate the ships transversing the bay and being sans drawbridge, it's a non-stop jaunt from Pelican Island to East Dover. That is, unless you're stuck in Sunday traffic from tourists leaving their Seaside summer behind for the commute home.

The J. Stanley Tunney Bridge began construction March 29, 1970 — today in Toms River's history.

R. Ray March 29, 2011 at 03:28 PM
My wife and I traveled many times and spent many hours crossing that old wooden bridge. By building the new bridge it increase tourism in Ocean County by 1000 per cent
MIC March 29, 2011 at 08:14 PM
Never knew about the wild west city in Toms River and would love to know more. Also would love to know more about the drive ins and the old marina next to the bride.
. March 29, 2011 at 08:24 PM
There was a drive in where Kmart now is on Rte 37. I believe that was the Toms River Drive In. Then there was the Bay Drive in off of Rte 37 where the Eastwinds development now stands. Then we also had the Community Theater on Washington Street that is now like a little mall where Bistro 44 is now. I can remember as a kid going crabbing with my father from the old marina by the bridge. They rented boats for the day.
MIC March 29, 2011 at 08:44 PM
Thanks for the great info, anything else i ca find out on these two areas and / or pictures would be awesome. thanks
Don W. March 29, 2011 at 09:02 PM
http://www.historicaerials.com/aerials.php?scale=8E-06&lat=39.9973417486153&lon=-74.1549899999999&year=1963 Some buildings visible at Wild West City area in Toms River 1963.
Don W. March 29, 2011 at 09:04 PM
http://www.historicaerials.com/aerials.php?scale=8E-06&lat=39.9609821317021&lon=-74.183051&year=1972 Toms River Drive In
Don W. March 29, 2011 at 09:05 PM
http://www.historicaerials.com/aerials.php?scale=8E-06&lat=39.9534771587126&lon=-74.1406762705479&year=1972 Bay Drive In
Don W. March 29, 2011 at 09:06 PM
As a matter of interest... the Go-Kart track near Bay Drive-In. http://www.historicaerials.com/aerials.php?scale=4E-06&lat=39.9507757273734&lon=-74.1369322705479&year=1972
Jim George March 29, 2011 at 09:16 PM
Don .. When did they tear down the drive-in and build K-Mart ?
Don W. March 29, 2011 at 09:19 PM
73 or 74? Not sure.
Jim George March 29, 2011 at 09:29 PM
I DO remember the Go-Kart track ... vaguely ..
chris vaz March 29, 2011 at 10:28 PM
If you visit my Seaside Heights photo history blog - www.seasideheightshistory.com - and type in "bridge" in the search box, you'll see some good photos and postcards of the timber bridge. Best regards, Christopher J. Vaz
Catherine Galioto (Editor) March 29, 2011 at 11:01 PM
Thank you everyone for your comments. We are hard at work creating a Today in Toms River History entry for every day of the year, but are a ways off. Thanks for walking down memory lane with us, which in this case is not a lane but a bridge.
. March 29, 2011 at 11:15 PM
I thoroughly enjoy this type of column and all of the comments from different people that remember different places that used to be. Keep up the good work.
. March 29, 2011 at 11:18 PM
I would guess more like 74. I remember my ex husband and I used to go and eat at Ken Mather's on Fischer Blvd (where Rivoli's is now) and then go to the drive in on a Friday night before we were married. The good old days.
Don W. March 30, 2011 at 02:47 AM
Chris- Amazing site!
chris vaz March 30, 2011 at 03:04 AM
Thanks Don. I'm glad I checked in with Berkeley Patch. The Historic Aerial website that some of you discussed is incredible! I was unfamiliar with it previous to today.
. March 30, 2011 at 03:16 AM
I agree.
Greg Marino March 30, 2011 at 10:01 AM
On the stormy day the bridge was to open, I assume it is the 29 March we're talking about, my high school band...TRHSS...was "supposed" to March over the new span as part of the celebration. The weather was so bad we never even got off the school buses BUT...the buses did transverse the new bridge before traffic was officially given the go. Also, my childhood home was directly on Coates Point and viewing the progress of the construction was a daily thing. AND...if I remember correctly...a bridge worker died during it's construction.
Greg Marino March 30, 2011 at 10:41 AM
Love the comment Walter! (The only toll to have disappeared in NJ)
Don W. March 30, 2011 at 11:48 AM
Glad you enjoyed it
chris vaz March 30, 2011 at 11:58 AM
This is a postcard showing a pre-1970 view of the Toms River side of the bridge. http://christophervaz.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/img918jpg.jpg
Catherine Galioto (Editor) March 30, 2011 at 04:47 PM
Also, folks, if you are so inclined, Patch allows users to attach pictures to any story. So go to town posting any way back when images here! Enjoy!
RJN July 30, 2011 at 09:13 PM
I belive that book your refering to might be titled"Seaside Heights-the first fifty"-it was a very interesting read-it actully had pictures of seaside-and stuff about the town all the way back to when the first deed-[charter] for the place-ther are pix of the bridge your talking about in it-really neat!-when we first moved to seaside was wintertime around 1971-or 2-the west bridge wasnt quite finished yet-they had the 2 halfs "almost mated up" out at the top-and the other bridge was 2 way traffic[east+west-on same bridge]-made for some interesting witertime driving-lol
mindy August 14, 2011 at 05:21 PM
I don't remember if it was in toms river or whiting but there were 2 one was wild west city and the other may have been more in jackson area called cowboy city and I think they only lasted one or 2 seasons. We would get a pony or horse from them at the end of the season for a very low price, we had the land to keep them over the winter and the whole "amusement" shut down between labor day and memorial day.
mindy August 14, 2011 at 05:27 PM
It was around in the late 1950's and probably pnly around for a few seasons, by 1961 I am sure it was long gone and the "developements" and a new school a summer era had begun and the land was more valuable for homes etc than a children's amusement park. There was also a place called deer park in Lakewood on rt 9 and countyline rd long before there was a county line rd and the deer roamed free and there were some other larger animals in cages.
Doug D March 16, 2012 at 01:15 AM
There was another railroad bridge between Good Luck Point in Berkeley and South Seaside Park.
Boo73 July 22, 2012 at 03:09 PM
When I was a kid I think I remember the Thomas A. Mathis Bridge having three lanes and the center lane would be changed from inbound to outbound depending on traffice load. I remember trafiic lights at intervals over the span and the center would change form green to red, or vice versa on opposite side, depending on traffic volume? This would have been before the new spand was built. Anyone?
ed crowley October 23, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Toms River drive in torn down 72 . I lived behind it on terrace. Bay Drive In was closed later.
Rick M May 23, 2013 at 10:56 PM
Hi, does anyone recall a miniature train ride existing at either the Bay Drive In, The Toms River Drive In, Wild West City or Deer Park? If so could you please post and describe it? I am trying to uncover the history of a 1950s era miniature train kiddie ride. It turned up about 1980 in a salvage yard in Brick, NJ, and was thought to have operated locally before it was scrapped. Thank you!

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