Governor Phil Murphy was in town to announce the completion of construction of the Thomas A. Mathis bridge Friday morning.
The governor was introduced on this windy morning by Seaside Park mayor Robert W. Matthies. Toms River mayor Thomas Kelaher was also in attendance.
“This is truly one of the Jersey Shore’s iconic communities, both of them I have to say,” Murphy said. “You’ve come back strong from Hurricane Sandy and today we’re going to make the shore a little bit stronger.”
The original bridge was completed in 1950, linking the Toms River and Seaside Heights over the Barnegat Bay.
Construction began in November 2015 and was expected to be completed by this summer. Between November and May the last three years, workers have been rebuilding the bridge, rebuilding decking and making much-needed safety improvements and structural repairs. It just made it before the official start of summer at the Shore, Memorial Day weekend. More than 13,000 vehicles cross that bridge every day during the summer season.
The $56.4 million project was funded in the Transportation Improvement Program through the National Highway Performance Program.
County officials, who received their figures from the DOT, said the cost did come in at $60 million, with another $15 million in soft costs.
Murphy called the area one of the most “picturesque scenes” in New Jersey, with the peaceful bay waters.
“As one of just three major water crossings connecting the Barnegat peninsula to mainland New Jersey, and the only one south of Mantoloking, the Mathis bridge is a lifeline for residents and day trippers,” Murphy said. “It is the busiest access point to the barrier islands beaches and its equally famous boardwalk. Now, thankfully, getting here is going to be a good deal easier with the newly refurbished Mathis Bridge fully opening to traffic.”