If you've ever been to Margate or Ventnor New Jersey, you probably crossed a bridge called the Downbeach Express. You also probably wondered why they don't accept E-ZPass like most other toll roads and bridges in the state. That's because it's privately owned, a rarity these days in any state, especially one so heavily regulated like New Jersey.

The history of the bridge dates back to 1929 when the City of Margate commissioned a toll drawbridge to be constructed from Egg Harbor Township to the city of Margate. Prior to that, ferries made the trip across the back bay or people traveled by train from the hub of Atlantic City where a train traveled to AC from Camden.

Google Maps
Google Maps

The bridge opened during the Depression in the 1930s and quickly fell into disrepair. The initial toll of 5 cents couldn't cover the cost of upkeep and repairs.

The bridge was purchased by the Hill Dredging Company and state funds were secured for repairs. The bridge re-opened on July 14th, 1939, with a new toll of 25 cents.

Google Maps
Google Maps

After years of use and disrepair, the bridge was auctioned off in Federal Court in 1964. It then went to the highest bids of the Capaldi family and the Hansen family. Last year the toll went up from $2 to $2.25. There are two toll lanes.

You can buy a Margate Bridge toll card and avoid the long summer lines.

You can also get to Margate for free by crossing the new bridge that connects Ocean City with Longport from the south or coming through Ventnor from Atlantic City.

Crossing the bridge is like a journey through time past the marshes of Northfield and over the low-slung bridge onto the wide street of Jerome Avenue in the heart of Margate.

The 10 free bridges from New Jersey to Pennsylvania (and vice versa!)

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission oversees many of these free crossings, and their method is one that is a foreign concept to those in charge in the Garden State. The group, which is a bi-state agency appointed by officials in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, uses revenue generated from larger, more heavily trafficked crossings to maintain the free ones.

NJ's Route 22 circa 1984 — Do you recognize these businesses?

Thanks to a new music video for a song called "Twenty Two" by the band Jacques Le Coque, some great footage has surfaced of the NJ portion of U.S. 22, a vital artery through Warren, Hunterdon, Somerset, Union, and Essex counties.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy only.

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