Traffic changes on the Causeway to Long Beach Island are coming again as the $312 federally funded rehabilitation and expansion project advances, according to state Department of Transportation officials.
The first change is slated for Dec. 19, from 9 a.m. until noon, to allow George Harms Construction Co., the state DOT contractor for the project, to re-stripe the Route 72 eastbound roadway in order to shift traffic from the north side to the south side outside lane of the Hilliards Thoroughfare Bridge, keeping one lane of traffic open in each direction through the work zone.
“The shift will permit the reconstruction of the median on the trestle bridge,” DOT officials said in a Dec. 18 statement about the traffic changes.
The second shift in traffic is expected early next year when Route 72 westbound traffic moves from its current location on the newly constructed eastbound bridge into a single lane over the renovated westbound bridge, DOT officials said. It will mark the reopening of the original Causeway to traffic for the first time since it was closed for reconstruction.
A second lane in both directions is expected to be open in late spring ahead of Memorial Day weekend, and will remain open through the summer season, transportation officials said.
Work on the Route 72/Manahawkin Bay Bridge project began in 2013 and is expected to continue through 2021. The 3-mile-long Causeway links Stafford Township on the mainland with Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island.
As part of the project, a new bridge has been constructed parallel to the existing one over Manahawkin Bay, providing the safety of a redundant route on or off the Island. The new bridge is 2,400 feet long with a vertical clearance of 55 feet over Manahawkin Bay. It currently has two lanes in each direction while the original Causeway Bridge is being rehabilitated. Ultimately, it will function as the bridge for eastbound traffic once the project is completed, with the rehabilitated original bridge carrying westbound traffic.