Will LBI Traffic Increase Due To Road Work?

Construction caused traffic delays during beautiful days when people were going to Long Beach Island. (Photo courtesy Scott Dacus)

  MANAHAWKIN – What is normally a 10-minute drive recently took many motorists over an hour to travel on Route 72 over the Causeway Bridge due to continuous construction.

  Although locals are always looking forward to the perfect beach weather, it always comes with a price: shore traffic.

  Merely a week before Memorial Day weekend, one of the busiest times at the shore, residents were left angry and frustrated as several lanes were closed on the Manahawkin Bay Bridge going to Long Beach Island.

  “I’m so upset it’s busy enough. But truly working upon summer months ahead? This is way too much,” Denise Stacy Danca Curcio wrote on Facebook.

  “Why didn’t they work on this in March or April with a mild winter we’ve had, the weather was perfect,” Annmarie Dreyer wrote.

  “Poor planning!” Joanna Filosa said online.

Photo courtesy Scott Dacus

  On May 18, NJ Department of Transportation (NJDOT) said two lanes on Route 72 eastbound/9th Street would be closed for concrete and drainage work and to repave the roadway. At least one lane would be open. Officials expected two lanes of traffic on Route 72 East to open by 3:30 p.m. May 19.

  “All lanes were reopened on Friday afternoon by 1 p.m. The traffic volume over the weekend can be attributed to a combination of higher traffic volume on weekends, as well as Ship Bottom closing Shore Avenue for paving, which is unrelated to NJDOT work,” said Steve Schapiro, spokesperson for NJDOT.

  The Manahawkin Bay Bridge Project began in 2013. The goal of the project is to improve safety and reduce congestion in Stafford at the Marsha Drive/Route 72 intersection and in Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island.

  Originally, the project was estimated to be completed by 2024. However, Schapiro said some issues with utility relocations and a small amount of contaminated soil was discovered. These factors resulted in some changes of plans that will prolong the work for about a year.

  With the ongoing construction causing heavy traffic, many locals are worried that this will impact the area during the summer season.

Photo courtesy Scott Dacus

  Schapiro confirmed that NJDOT will be continuing construction during the summer.

  “In June, New Jersey Natural Gas is expected to relocate a gas line along 9th Street. The work will require nightly lane closures Monday through Thursday nights for several weeks,” he said. “In addition, there is ongoing curb and drainage work taking place on Long Beach Boulevard, Central Avenue and Barnegat between 7th Street and 10th Street that will continue for several weeks during the day, Monday through Thursday. After the day’s work is complete the lane will be reopened.”

  “Overnight paving is expected to take place in mid to late June on Long Beach Boulevard between 8th and 10th streets. NJDOT will provide advance notice of any lane closures for the paving work.”