Once a quiet stretch of rural state highway between Routes 34 and 35, Route 66 in Neptune these days extends the Route 33 commercial district eastward with big-box stores, auto dealerships and an outlet mall. Now, everyone who crowds into those parking lots can also get Monmouth County government services as well.

Monmouth County Clerk M. Claire French (monmouthrepublican.org)

The Monmouth County Connection, 3466 Route 66, sits just east of the Parkway and Jumping Brook Road, a stone's throw from the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties and a shout away from Asbury Park. People in the county's eastern half needing passports and photos, veterans' services, senior programs, document notarization, or even use of a computer or wi-fi no longer need to take hours to drive to Freehold and back.

"The County Connection is something I had wanted to do for many years," said County Clerk M. Claire French. "It makes sense to go where the people are. Freehold is closer to the western part of Monmouth...the population is along the coast."

French says its meeting room can accomodate many different functions as well as all 63 county departments. Passport seekers can not only fill out the forms, but get the photos taken there as well.

Retired military members can obtain Veteran Identification Cards, which is good for retail discounts. Staffers routinely on site represent Veterans' Affairs, the Office on Disabilities, and the Senior Citizen Action Network, which is headquartered in the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown.

Monmouth County Connection, Neptune (Jo Schloeder)

The storefront office also sits near three different bus connections, says French, and has extended hours.

"We will be open two nights a week until 8 PM, and Saturdays from 9 'til 1," she adds. "That will allow people to not have to take a day off simply to get passports."