Easement Question Expected to Be Resolved During Final Phase of Causeway Project

Photo by Ryan Morrill.

Ship Bottom — As part of the final phase of the $312 million expansion and rehabilitation of the Causeway to Long Beach Island, the state Department of Transportation is working with the owner of Hotel LBI on right-of-way issues that include the unresolved Causeway encroachment concern at the west side of the property.

The issue came to light last month during a Ship Bottom Land Use Board meeting when it was noted the owner and developer of Hotel LBI, the new 102-room luxury hotel at the site of the former State Room, previously the Quarter Deck, was still waiting on a response from the DOT regarding the issue. At the time, Frank Little, borough engineer, said if the DOT didn’t approve the work or respond, that entrance would have to be taken down completely, including the waterfalls in the landscaping.

“The NJDOT is not suing the property owner,” Stephen Schapiro, deputy director of communications said recently. The situation is expected to be resolved when the final phase of the Causeway project begins next year.

Schapiro said the next phase of the nine-year project calls for approximately 3,000 feet of Eighth and Ninth streets where they intersect with Barnegat and Central avenues and the Boulevard to be widened. It’s this phase of the federally funded improvement project that focuses on reconfiguring the Causeway Circle into a square at the Arlington Beach Club, the new condo complex where a vacant gas station was previously located.

Squaring off the beach club property makes room for traffic pattern changes on Eighth and Ninth streets, the entrance and exit roadways for LBI from Route 72. It also changes the traffic flow on Central Avenue and on Long Beach Boulevard, which will be converted into a two-way road in front of the former CVS.

Central Avenue is currently a one-way road southbound between Third and 11th streets in Ship Bottom before motorists come to the traffic circle. It’s this area that would be turned into a two-way street. Left traffic turns at Central Avenue will be prohibited at the intersection with Eighth and Ninth streets. Other improvements to the roadways include widening the streets by 13 feet to provide for an additional lane of traffic, an additional 3 feet for the inside shoulder and a new 8-foot-wider shoulder.

“Five traffic signals will be reconstructed and a new traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of Eighth Street and Long Beach Boulevard,” Schapiro said.

In addition to the road work, a new storm drainage system and new outfalls will be installed in an effort to reduce frequent flooding along Route 72 where it intersects with Barnegat and Central avenues and the Boulevard, he said.

That work, along with safety and operational issues on Route 72 where it intersects with Marsha Drive in Stafford Township, is expected to begin next year with a summer 2022 completion date, he said.

At Marsha Drive, a third lane will be added to Route 72 in each direction for a limited distance to help more vehicles get through the traffic signal there. Marsha Drive will be reconfigured to provide double left turn lanes onto Route 72.

In the meantime, all lanes on the Causeway will be open between May 15 and Sept. 15 for the summer season, Shapiro said.

— Gina G. Scala

Reposted from The Sandpaper