MANAHAWKIN – The final phase of the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges project has officially been initiated in a ceremony attented by Governor Phil Murphy, New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, Ship Bottom Mayor William Huelsenbeck and Stafford Township Mayor Gregory Myhre.
“Today, work on the final aspect of the long-term rebuild and rehabilitation of the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridge will get underway in earnest,” Murphy said. “With new lanes that will be constructed at-grade and drainage and other improvements that will be made underground, the entirety of this project is part-and-parcel of our overall goal of ensuring the safe, modern, and resilient infrastructure that our state needs.”
“The Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges project is an excellent example of how the Murphy Administration and the New Jersey Department of Transportation deliver projects that improve safety and improve the quality of life in our communities,” NJDOT Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti said. “Today we are marking the beginning of the final contract of this project, but our commitment to this community will continue long after the asphalt is cured and the crews go home.”
The project is designed to improve safety and reduce congestion in Stafford Township at the Marsha Drive/Route 72 intersection and in Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island. The plan involves widening Marsha Drive in Stafford Township to provide double left turn lanes onto Route 72. A third lane will also be added on Route 72 in both directions near the intersection.
On the Ship Bottom side of the project, around 3,000 feet of Route 72 (locally known as 8th and 9th Streets) and three cross roads (Barnegat Avenue, Central Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard) will be widened. Two-way traffic will be restored along Central Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard. Five traffic signals will be reconstructed as well as a new traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of 8th Street and Long Beach Boulevard. Finally, a new storm drainage system and new outfalls will also be installed in an effort to reduce frequent flooding along Route 72 and these intersections.
“This project was introduced in 1993 and proposed by the Department of Transportation in 2007,” Ship Bottom Mayor William Huelsenbeck said. “It has now become a reality and Ship Bottom, ‘The Gateway of Long Beach Island,’ couldn’t be happier.”
“We appreciate the improvements that the NJDOT has made in Stafford Township over the past several years and we look forward to continuing our mutually beneficial relationship,” Stafford Township Mayor Gregory Myhre said.
The $312 million project was comprised of five contracts and the construction included: a new bridge parallel to the existing Manahawkin Bay Bridge; the rehabilitation of the existing bridge; and the rehabilitation of three trestle bridges. The bicycle and pedestrian facilities also received improvements as well as environmental mitigation
Construction for the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges project began in 2013 and is expected to be complete in 2022.
According to a press release, the new bridge carries eastbound traffic, while the rehabilitated Old Causeway Bridge carries the westbound traffic. Environmental mitigation and improvements to Cedar Bonnet Island were completed including wetland creation, mitigation for freshwater wetlands and a public walking trail.
The Federal Highway Association and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recognized the project for environmental excellence and for improving the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.
“Throughout the past year, we have been reminded of the importance of working together. As we recover and move forward, working together will be paramount to our success,” said Dave Velazquez, President and CEO of Pepco Holdings, which includes Atlantic City Electric. “Today, we are recognizing an incredibly important project that demonstrates how collaboration between the public and private sectors can help us efficiently upgrade New Jersey’s infrastructure, making it more accessible, stronger and resilient in the face of a changing climate and more extreme weather.”
To learn more about the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges project, visit: state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/roads/rte72manahawkinbaybridges.