Ship Bottom — The end is in sight – well, mostly. Contracts for the last remaining phase of the $312 million federally funded Causeway bridge expansion and rehabilitation project are in the final design phase, state transportation officials said.
“Final design is expected to be completed later this fall, with the contracts being advertised, bid and awarded in spring 2020,” said Stephen Schapiro, deputy director of communications for the state Department of Transportation. “Construction is anticipated to begin in late summer or early fall 2020.”
The final phase of the DOT’s multi-year project calls for the reconfiguration of the Causeway circle into a square where Route 72, also known as Eighth and Ninth streets, intersects with Long Beach Boulevard in Ship Bottom. The Arlington Beach Club condo complex marks the area in question. The work zone is located along the western property line of the complex and Long Beach Boulevard, the main thoroughfare on the Long Beach Island.
Squaring off the beach club property makes room for the traffic pattern changes on Eighth and Ninth streets, the entrance and exit roadways for the Island. It also changes the traffic flow on Central Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard. The DOT’s proposed improvements in Ship Bottom have long included converting a section of the Boulevard into a two-way road at the site of the Arlington Beach Club, once the site of a gas station.
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 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, according to DOT officials.
In 2017, state transportation officials announced plans to include a new drainage system comprised of underground gravity flow pipes. The pipes are anticipated to be installed along Eighth and Ninth streets from Long Beach Boulevard to the bay. In making the announcement, the DOT nixed a pump station originally planned as part of the Causeway project. State transportation officials said the new system would direct runoff to two new, separate outfall locations, providing operational redundancy. If one location is backed up or malfunctions in any way, state officials have said, it would not cause the remaining outfall to flood. The proposed system would cost less to build and maintain, according to transportation officials.
Before that work can begin, however, Ship Bottom will undertake its own $4 million drainage project, which the DOT is working with the town to coordinate. The money is earmarked to replace the underground infrastructure. In September, Ship Bottom officials introduced two bond ordinances that will pave the way for the drainage work.
In related news, the DOT plans on meeting with residents of Cedar Bonnet Island to discuss a safe way for residents on the south side of the sedge island to access the new sidewalks on the northside of the rehabbed old Causeway, Schapiro said. Nothing has been scheduled yet, he confirmed recently.
Work on expanding and rehabbing the Causeway, the only access road on and off Long Beach Island, began in 2013.
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 on Twitter @NJDOT_info.
— Gina G. Scala