The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) today announced that preliminary construction work is underway on the $350 million Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges project, and that two lanes of traffic will be maintained to allow access to Long Beach Island during the busy daytime hours and weekends of the summer months ahead.
The initial $90 million contract will construct a new bridge parallel to the existing one over Manahawkin Bay, officials have said.
NJDOT’s contractor, Schiavone Construction Co., this week began preparing for heavy construction activity by installing signs and paving in the vicinity of U-turn ramps on Cedar Bonnet Island in the center portion of the causeway. The work sets the stage for creating a construction zone on Cedar Bonnet Island to the east of the Bay Bridge in early June.
This initial construction zone will require NJDOT to close the eastbound side of the highway and the existing u-turn ramps on Cedar Bonnet Island. Eastbound traffic will be shifted to the westbound side of the highway, officials said in a press release.
Once the new traffic pattern is established, two travel lanes will be maintained in either direction during peak hours, utilizing the existing westbound deceleration lanes at this location.
The temporary closure of the U-turn ramps nullifies the need for the existing deceleration lanes, so there is no loss of travel lane capacity on Route 72 with this new configuration. For U-turn movements:
· Route 72 westbound motorists will be directed to use Marsha Drive in Stafford
· Route 72 eastbound motorists will be directed to use Barnegat Avenue in Ship Bottom
The Department is holding a public information center today at the Stafford municipal building to provide residents and business owners with the opportunity to review exhibits of the project, ask questions and discuss issues with NJDOT representatives.
The new bridge will be 2,400 feet long with a vertical clearance of 55 feet over Manahawkin Bay. Ultimately, it will function as the bridge for eastbound traffic once the project is completed.
When construction of the new span is completed in 2016, the existing Bay Bridge, which is structurally deficient and functionally obsolete, will be closed to traffic for rehabilitation. Upon completion of the rehabilitation work, it will serve as the bridge for westbound traffic.
This sequence will preserve the current two travel lanes in each direction during busy summer seasons from mid-May to mid-September during daytime hours and weekends. The contractor will be allowed single-lane closures overnight and during the off-season, but one lane will always be maintained in each direction. With Route 72 serving as the only evacuation route from LBI, the Department will restrict any westbound lane closures until after the hurricane season, which ends in late November.
The first contract will also construct the new approach roadways for the parallel span, new retaining walls and new storm-water drainage systems. Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) will be built and highway lighting upgrades (including decorative lighting on both bridges) are included.
In addition, the contractor will install new fender systems, make substantial bulkhead repairs and perform environmental mitigation work. Two new Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) will be installed along Route 72 eastbound and an existing westbound DMS being upgraded to provide motorists with traffic and other information near the Garden State Parkway and Route 9 in Stafford.
During design NJDOT developed an extensive community outreach program which included a previous PIC for this project in 2010. In addition, NJDOT developed a project-specific website available online at www.nj.gov/transportation. Click on “In the Works” and select “Our Projects & the Environment” from the drop-down menu. Select “Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges Project.”
Completion of the entire project - with details for all four contracts here - is scheduled for 2020.
The precise timing of the work is subject to change due to weather or other factors. Motorists are encouraged to check NJDOT’s traffic information website www.511nj.org for real-time travel information.