Life in the post-Fort Monmouth age takes a visible, measurable step forward...two miles, to be precise, as traffic resumes humming on County Route 537 through the installation between State Highway 35 in Eatontown and County Route 11 in Oceanport.

Route 537 reopens (George W. Forman, Townsquare Media)

The fence that was built when Fort Monmouth fell victim to the Pentagon's Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) in 2011 is a memory, and passage on the thoroughfare helps the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalizaton Authority (FMERA) towards its ambitious goal of a mixed-use mini-community.

FMERA hopes to develop 1,585 housing units, secure 300,000 square feet for non-profit, civic and government and educational purposes, devote 500,000 square feet to retail interests, and reserve 2,000,000 square feet for offices, research and commercial uses.

Route 537 ribbon cutting (courtesy Tricia Wajda)

Monmouth Freeholder Director Lillian Burry, the Board's FMERA representative, called it "a positive next step in the planned redevelopment of Fort Monmouth, an initiative which will greatly impact the quality of life and overall living standard for all County residents," adding that she expects traffic congestion between Eatontown and Oceanport to subside.

County Public Works and Engineering staffers planted new signs and temporary fences, repaired traffic signals, improved drainage, and reconfigured and repaved parts of the road.

Maintenance remains a County responsibility. Sheriff Shaun Golden's officers and Eatontown and Oceanport police share monitoring of surveillance cameras all along the route.

Route 537 fence is removed (courtesy Tricia Wajda)

Monuments and trees along the Avenue of Memories on the Eatontown side of 537 have been spiffed up, along with the Johnson Gate arches fronting Route 35.

The markers commemorate members of the U.S. Army Signal Corps who died on battlefields of foreign wars.

Freeholder Serena DiMaso, liaison to the Monmouth County Improvement Authority, added that costs were financed through that agency, bolstered by Monmouth's AAA bond rating.

Avenue of Memories, Route 537 (George W. Forman, Townsquare Media)

"I would like to express my personal appreciation to Monmouth County for the focus and attention paid by everyone involved with this project to reopen this roadway to the public and especially to the residents of Monmouth County," said FMERA Chairman James V. Gorman.

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