When you live, work or vacation a barrier island with only one way on and off, it’s never too early to start planning. So, a quarter of a century after discussions first began with the state, Ship Bottom borough officials have announced work to change the traffic pattern at what is known locally as the Causeway Circle will begin in less than two years.
“It’s been a pet project,” Mayor William Huelsenbeck said, noting discussions for a traffic pattern change at the circle date back to 1993. The state finally agreed to look at local concerns in 2004 and slated a 2007 start date to address the situation at the circle, he said. “In September 2007, I received some good news and bad news. The bad news (was) they weren’t going to do it then, but the good news was it was slated for 2022.”
The timeline, he said, has been moved up to 2020.
The work, which is the final phase of the state Department of Transportation’s $312 million Causeway expansion and rehabilitation project, calls for the reconfiguration of the circle into a square. The area in question is located along the western property line of the Arlington Beach Club condo complex and Long Beach Boulevard.
The site of the beach club is to be squared off to make room for the traffic flow changes on Eighth and Ninth streets as well as Central Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard, according to Dan Triana, state Department of Transportation public information officer. The DOT’s proposed improvements in Ship Bottom include converting a section of Long Beach Boulevard, the main thoroughfare on the 18-mile Island, into a two-way road at the site of the club, he said.
Central Avenue, the one-way road southbound between Third and 11th streets in Ship Bottom before motorists come to the traffic circle, is also expected to be reconfigured, Triana said. This section of the road would be converted to allow for two-way traffic, he said. Left turns at Central Avenue would be prohibited at the intersection with Eighth and Ninth streets. Other roadway improvements include widening the road along Eighth and Ninth streets by 13 feet to accommodate an additional lane of traffic, a 3-feet-wider inside shoulder and a new 8-feet-wider shoulder, according to Triana.
A recent meeting to discuss the project is just one of the reasons Huelsenbeck brought the topic to light at last month’s borough council meeting. The other reason: the $4 million water and sewer work earmarked for the project.
“The $4 million is the money the borough needs to pay the state upfront in order for our portion of the water/sewer upgrades to be included in the state’s bid,” Kathleen Flanagan, Ship Bottom chief financial officer, said. “Our project is on Eighth and Ninth streets to replace the infrastructure.”
State transportation officials last year announced plans to include a new drainage system comprised of underground gravity flow pipes to be installed along Eighth and Ninth streets from Long Beach Boulevard to the bay. In doing so, they nixed a pump station as part of its $312 million expansion and rehabilitation of the Causeway. At the time, 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.
“They won’t do it in the summer,” Huelsenbeck said, “but then they also said they wouldn’t close the bridge in the summer.”
– Gina G. Scala