Crossing the Atlantic Beach Bridge proved difficult on Feb. 11, as the 2012 vehicle decals expired, despite the Atlantic Beach Bridge Authority extending the deadline to renew them.
According to Atlantic Beach resident Barry Ringelheim, more than 100 cars were backed up on the Atlantic Beach Bridge around 7 a.m. and were unable to get through. “It was a real fiasco,” he said.
Bridge Authority Manager Vincent Grasso said the annual decal typically expires each year on Dec. 31, but because Hurricane Sandy left many Nassau County residents with rental cars or temporary vehicles, the authority extended the date to renew the decal to Feb. 11. “Many residents didn’t get the decal and it expired so traffic was backed up,” Grasso said. “Residents could pay with cash at the toll booth [for the 2013 decal] or they could pull over and come in to get the decal renewed.”
Fliers were handed out at the tollbooths on the bridge after the hurricane alerting people that they could purchase the 2013 decals early, at a rate of $135 for Nassau County residents. However, Grasso said nothing was mentioned on the flier that the purchase date had been extended to Feb. 11. “We gave residents a month and a half extra to get it done,” Grasso said. “They didn’t do their part in knowing they had to renew their decal.”
Richard Libbey, an Atlantic Beach resident, uses the bridge three or four times a day and said the Bridge Authority used to hang up signs at the toll booths to alert residents as to when their decals would expire. “I find it shocking that they took down the signs and no one knew the date,” he said. “Everyone always waits to the last minute and they’re not discounting the cost even though they’re giving me a months grace; they’re not giving me anything.”