Causeway Bridge Project Receives Federal Environmental Excellence Award

By Gina G. Scala | Jul 26, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Stafford Township — The state Department of Transportation’s $319 million federally funded project to rehabilitate and expand the Causeway Bridge system to Long Beach Island and its habitat restoration on a portion of Cedar Bonnet Island is a recipient of the 2019 Federal Highway Administration Environmental Excellence Award.

“This award recognizes the innovative and collaborative nature of NJDOT projects that enhance the quality of life in our state in ways that are not necessarily intuitive,” Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, state Department of Transportation commissioner, said.

Gutierrez-Scaccetti said the project was made possible through a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“We were all able to develop a project to meet the required environmental mitigation while accomplishing the goals of all of the stakeholder agencies, and provide new public space for people to enjoy,” she said.

For nearly a quarter of a century, the award has recognized leaders across the country who make exceptional contributions to environmental stewardship and partnerships above and beyond traditional transportation project outcomes. These awards aim to recognize and exemplify such leaders and project contributions as a means of knowledge sharing and information exchange among peers.

Everett said the innovative approach mitigated requirements and accelerated the project while avoiding what could have become significant property acquisitions by the DOT.

“It also helped restore the degraded Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge ecosystem on Cedar Bonnet Island and provided sensitivity to the project settings,” he said.

Work on expanding and rehabbing the Causeway began in 2013. It’s expected to continue through 2022, though the rehabbing of the old Causeway Bridge, which now holds the westbound lanes off the Island, was completed a year ahead of schedule.

State transportation officials have said the next major piece of the nine-year project will address safety and operational issues at the Route 72/Marsha Drive intersection in Stafford Township, as well as operational and drainage improvements in Ship Bottom, the gateway to Long Beach Island.

The Ship Bottom work calls for the widening of approximately 3,000 feet of Eighth and Ninth streets where they intersect with Barnegat and Central avenues and Long Beach Boulevard. The focus of this phase is reconfiguring the Causeway Circle into a square at the Arlington Beach Club, the new condo complex where a long-vacant gas station was previously located.

Squaring off the beach club property to make room for traffic pattern changes on Eighth and Ninth streets will also impact the flow of traffic on the Boulevard and Central Avenue. In front of the former CVS Pharmacy, the Boulevard will be converted into a two-way road. It’s now one-way, north, in that area.

On Central Avenue, a one-way road southbound between Third and 11th streets in Ship Bottom will also be turned into a two-way street. Left traffic turns at Central Avenue where it intersects with Eighth and Ninth streets will be prohibited. Other improvements to the roadway include widening the streets by 13 feet to provide for an additional lane of traffic, an additional 3 feet for the inside shoulder and a new, 8-foot-wider shoulder.

A new storm drainage system and new outfalls will be installed in an effort to reduce frequent flooding along Route 72 where it intersects with Barnegat and Central avenues and the Boulevard. At Marsha Drive, a third lane will be added to Route 72 for a limited distance to help more vehicles travel through the traffic signal there.

The precise timing of the work is subject to change due to weather or other factors. Motorists are encouraged to check the DOT’s traffic information website, 511nj.org, for construction updates and real-time travel information, and for DOT news on Twitter @NJDOT_info.

— Gina G. Scala

ggscala@thesandpaper.net

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