In passing a resolution authorizing an agreement with the state of New Jersey, the Ship Bottom Borough Council is paving the way for the final phase of the $312 million federally funded rehabilitation and expansion project of the Causeway linking Long Beach Island to the mainland.
Resolution 2019-30, approved Jan. 22, notes the improvements will affect certain roadways maintained by the borough; the agreement prevents future legal and maintenance problems in those areas.
The final phase of the state Department of Transportation’s multi-year project calls for the reconfiguration of the Causeway circle into a square. 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 barrier 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 LBI from Route 72. 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 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-feet-wider shoulder, according to DOT officials.
Reconfiguration of the circle is about two years away from beginning, Mayor William Huelsenbeck informed the council prior to the Jan. 22 vote.
Ship Bottom is responsible for roughly $4 million for the water and sewer work included in the project, said Kathleen Flanagan, chief financial officer for the borough. The money is earmarked to replace the underground infrastructure, she said.
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.
Work on the project began in 2013 and is expected to continue through 2021. As part of the project, a new bridge has been constructed parallel to the pre-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 the bay. It currently has two lanes in each direction while the original Causeway Bridge is rehabilitated. Ultimately, the new bridge will carry 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 on Twitter @NJDOT_info.
— Gina G. Scala