Construction of the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay bridges project continued throughout the busy summer season with minimal conflict to heavy summer traffic. But the tourists have gone home. So what does that mean for winter residents traveling to and from Long Beach Island and the mainland?
|Photo by Ryan Morrill|
Construction of the new bridge can
be seen from beneath the current
Construction “is not increasing because it did not need to decrease,” said Joseph Dee, a spokesman for the N.J. Department of Transportation.
The construction phase of the project, which will eventually create a second bridge to and from Long Beach Island as well as refurbish the current Causeway Bridge, is currently underway and on schedule, said Dee. Shifting the lanes on the eastbound and westbound side of the bridge to create a staging area for building, which took place in late June, has allowed DOT contractor Schiavone Construction Co. to continue construction during the busy summer season without interfering with traffic.
“We didn’t have to limit our activity during the summer season because we were working away from the active travel lanes,” said Dee. “For the next three years, we’re building a new bridge alongside the existing one. There’s no traffic on the new bridge, so there’s not going to be those conflicts where we’ve got construction crews alongside live traffic lanes,” he explained.
Orange advisory speed limit signs with a suggested 45 mph will be posted within the next couple of weeks to encourage motorists to slow down as a precautionary measure while the work continues. The bridge lanes were restriped with reflective paint in July to help guide motorists during the nighttime.
|Photo by Ryan Morrill|
Construction is expected to continue with
little interference to motorists.
The new bridge will have traditional overhead lighting as well as an updated version of the string of pearls with LED lighting, which Dee said will be “purely decorative.”
Construction workers are in the process of building a trestle bridge that will allow for construction of the new bridge, as well as refurbishment of the current bridge. The creation of 16 cofferdams will be used to drill shafts, each 6-feet in diameter, into the floor of the bay. Those shafts will create a stable surface upon which the bridge piers will be constructed. The piers will support the new bridge once the cofferdams are removed. The DOT expects the piers to be completed by the first of the year.
The existing bay bridge will be closed to traffic and rehabilitated once the new bridge is built and open to traffic. This pattern will maintain the current two travel lanes in each direction during busy summer seasons.
The twin Manahawkin Bay bridges will offer motorists two 12-foot-wide travel lanes in each direction, as well as 12-foot-wide inside shoulders and 13-foot-wide outside shoulders that will provide safe travel lanes for bicyclists. A six-foot-wide sidewalk will be constructed alongside the outside shoulder of the bridge to carry westbound foot traffic.
Rehabilitation of the three trestle bridges will result in two 11-foot-wide travel lanes in each direction, as well as 1-foot-wide inside shoulders and 6-foot-wide outside shoulders to accommodate bicyclists. The westbound lanes will also offer a six-foot-wide sidewalk. The bridge currently offers no accommodations for pedestrians or bicyclists.
Crews are currently working on creating a retaining wall on Cedar Bonnet Island, which will also act as a parking and recreational area. The entire bridges project is set to be completed by 2020.
–Kelley Anne Essinger
This article was published in The SandPaper.