Anyone attempting to get on or off the Island for a two-day period last week probably, depending on the time of day, was met with summer-like traffic, the result of resurfacing between the East and West Thorofare Bridges being done in conjunction with the $350 million Route 72/Manahawkin Bridge project.
Ship Bottom Police Sgt. Michael Nash said the bottleneck occurred in Stafford Township, and its effects were felt on the Island, down both sides of Long Beach Boulevard as well as Central and Barnegat avenues, and other side streets in the area.
“We did all we could to attempt to alleviate the traffic flow,” he said, “but as long as the source of the problem was on the other side of the bridge, there’s really not much we can do but divert traffic away from Route 72, and down already-jammed side streets.”
Nash said the department did bring additional officers in, which helped stop vehicles from driving down the wrong way on Barnegat Avenue in an attempt to beat the traffic snarl on that roadway.
“We also shut down Central Avenue at Seventh Street to push southbound traffic away from Route 72 West, to alleviate the intersection at Central Avenue from becoming impassable in either direction,” he said.
Stephen Schapiro, director of communications for the state Department of Transportation, said the milling and paving work is complete, noting during the off-season, the contractor is allowed daytime closures provided one lane is maintained in each direction. And it was, he added.
“If emergency vehicles need to get through, the contractor would make access for them through the work zone,” he said. “The Hilliards Thorofare (the first bridge as you leave Stafford) is in the process of being reconstructed. The work is staged construction in which we demolish one side of the bridge and reconstruct it, and then do the other side. There is no other way we can perform this work without reducing lanes during the off-season.”
The north side of the bridge has been removed with traffic shifted to a single lane of traffic in each direction using the south side of the bridge, he said, noting it’s a long-term closure and there is no way to fully reopen the bridge at this time.
“Motorists planning to attend (the Ship Bottom) Christmas parade are encouraged to leave extra time for travel,” he said of the Dec. 2 event in the Island’s gateway community.
Nash is urging motorists to exercise patience and road safety when they find themselves in a traffic snarl similar to last week, or one in the middle of the summer season. He said motorists should not enter an intersection if they cannot safely make it across the roadway before the light turns.
For real-time travel information, motorists are encouraged to check the DOT’s traffic information website, 511nj.org.
– Reposted from The Sandpaper