Drainage Work to Shut Down U-Turn
For many, the fact that Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow was proof spring would arrive early. On Long Beach Island, however, it’s all about the traffic pattern on the Causeway, and on Monday, Feb. 4, state Department of Transportation officials announced two temporary shifts in traffic as the $312 million federally funded expansion and rehabilitation project advances.
The first traffic change was slated to begin Feb. 5 when state contractor George Harms Construction Co. moved the single lane of Route 72 westbound traffic from the new Causeway Bridge into a single lane over the rehabbed Causeway Bridge, according to transportation officials. It marks the first time the old Causeway Bridge is in use since it was closed for reconstruction in 2016. Eastbound traffic will remain on the newly constructed Causeway bridge, DOT officials said.
Traffic on the Causeway had been reduced to a single lane in each direction since October for construction. Two lanes of traffic on and off the Causeway are expected to open before the summer season begins, transportation officials said.
On Wednesday, Feb. 6, the center median U-turn on Bonnet Island near the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge Environmental Trail was expected to be closed in both directions for drainage work. The area in question is located between the main Causeway and the west thorofare bridges. Access will be maintained for emergency vehicles, according to the DOT. It’s anticipated the U-turn will remain closed through spring, state transportation officials said.
For motorists heading westbound, the U-turn will be directed across the main Causeway to Marsha Drive, where they will be able to make a U-turn to head east toward the Island, transportation officials said.
Motorists heading eastbound can do so across the West and East Thorofare bridges onto Ninth Street in Ship Bottom, near the CVS, where they would turn left onto North Barnegat Avenue and then make another left onto Eighth Street, which will lead them back to the bridge.
Work on the project began in 2013 and is expected to continue through 2021. The final phase 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 LBI.
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, Ship Bottom officials said last month.
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