It’s not quite time to celebrate the clearing of equipment from the north side of the Long Beach Island Causeway, a necessary move ahead of work requiring diamond grinding on the bridge deck, according to state transportation officials.
“The work does two things; the grinding removes any grade imperfections from the driving surface by lowering the high spots that occasionally occur during deck pours and creates a texture for vehicle traction,” said Dan Triana, public information officer for the state Department of Transportation. “Once completed, a final smooth riding surface will be created.”
The work, part of the $312 million federally funded rehabilitation and expansion project of the sole thoroughfare on and off Long Beach Island, remains on schedule, he said.
“The contractor has poured the bridge parapets and is currently installing railing on top of the parapets,” Triana said, noting the bike path and walkways are partially complete.
The walkway over the bridge is on the northside of the Causeway, behind a railing system for additional pedestrian safety, he said.
“The project is a rehabilitation of the old bridge, limiting what improvements can be made while maintaining and restoring as much of the old bridge as possible,” Triana said. “It was determined that a dedicated walkway behind bridge rail was the best option to carry pedestrians over the bridge.”
Much of the pedestrian traffic coming from the mainland is anticipated to be coming from the south side of the Causeway, mainly from Beach Haven West. Walkers from that area of Stafford Township will be able to access the pedestrian walkway via a sidewalk located on the south side, he said. That work is planned in an upcoming stage
“Pedestrians will have access to a new sidewalk in the vicinity of Morris Boulevard/Selma Place along Route 72 eastbound,” Triana said. “The new sidewalk will take pedestrians under the south side of the west abutment of the newly rehabilitated Hilliards Thorofare Bridge to the north side. Once situated on the north side, the sidewalk over the bridge is accessible.”
The project is also expected to improve bicycle access for both commuting and recreational activities by providing a contiguous path between the mainland and Long Beach Island along the north side of Route 72, Triana said. Pedestrian sidewalks will be provided along Eighth and Ninth streets, Barnegat Avenue, Central Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard in Ship Bottom as part of the pedestrian safety improvements and connectivity for the Island during the final phase of the project.
Enhancements for bicycle compatibility constructed to date include a 6-foot-wide outside shoulder to accommodate bicyclists on the East Thorofare and West Thorofare bridges. The Hilliards Thorofare bridge is currently under construction and will offer the same bicycle accessibility. The rehabilitated Manahawkin Bay Bridge will have a 13-foot outside shoulder to facilitate bicyclists. A 10-foot multi-use walkway constructed on Cedar Bonnet Island to the west of the West Thorofare Bridge will accommodate both pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
Construction for the entire project, including the bicycle and pedestrian improvements, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021. The project to build a new bridge parallel to the existing one over the Manahawkin Bay began in 2013. Its main goal is to provide the safety of a redundant route on and off the barrier island. The new bridge is 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, with the rehabilitated original bridge carrying westbound traffic.
The precise timing of the work is subject to change due to weather or other factors. Motorists are encouraged to check the DOT’s traffic information website, 511nj.org, for construction updates and real-time travel information, and for DOT news, Twitter @NJDOT_info.
— Gina G. Scala