By Kimberly Bosco and Chris Lundy
TOMS RIVER – All eastbound lanes on the Mathis Bridge/Route 37 have been reopened, essentially completing the bridge project ahead of schedule and just in time for summer, according to the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT).
The lanes were reopened on the evening of May 3 around 11 p.m., according to NJDOT contractor Schiavone Construction Company, however there may still be single-lane closures on the bridge between Monday and Thursday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. to finish up the project. NJDOT reported that no lanes should be closed on weekends.
The Mathis Bridge is the eastbound bridge toward Seaside Heights, and the Tunney Bridge is the westbound bridge.
The construction was worked on over three winter seasons to avoid summer traffic issues. With this last round of construction, the bridge received new warning gates, lights, bridge approaches, and the cast-in-place anchor spans were completed.
While the Mathis Bridge was closed, two westbound lanes and one eastbound lane with a moveable barrier were employed on the Tunney Bridge for traffic. During construction, there was full closure of all lanes on the Mathis Bridge, between November 1 and April 30 each year.
Before the reopening of all the lanes on the Mathis Bridge, the temporary crossover from Route 37 eastbound onto the Tunney Bridge had to be removed, according to NJDOT.
“The $56.4 million federally-funded project replaced the existing bridge deck on the Mathis Bridge, which is 68 years old, made safety improvements to the barrier and railings, and repaired and replaced mechanical and electrical components that operate the moveable lift span,” stated the NJDOT in a press release.
At recent Toms River Township Council meetings, year-round residents on the shore areas had complained about the inconvenience of having the bridge closed during the winter months and expressed relief that the project was coming to an end.