Causeway U-Turns Could Reopen Sometime This Month

By GINA G. SCALA | Jun 05, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Stafford Township — The U-turn area east of the Causeway Bridge could reopen sometime this month, once drainage work is completed.

Drainage improvement work between the eastbound and westbound lanes of the Causeway to Long Beach Island is expected to be completed sometime this summer, possibly this month.

“The work is to prevent erosion along the banks by installing inlets and curbs around the perimeter of the basin,” Stephen Schapiro, deputy communications director for the state Department of Transportation, said. “New plantings will be installed around the pond slopes to help prevent the erosion.”

The retention basins are marked by containers for particle and silt removal from the basin water, which allows clear water to be discharged from well points, he said.

“There has been no contamination with the groundwater,” Schapiro said.

The center median U-turn on Bonnet Island near the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge Environmental Trail was closed in both directions earlier this year as part of the $319 million federally funded Causeway rehabilitation and expansion project. It remains closed. The area in question is located between the main Causeway Bridge and the West Thorofare bridges. Access has been maintained for emergency vehicles, according to the DOT.

Motorists heading westbound who want to make a U-turn are currently directed across the main Causeway to Marsha Drive, where they can make a U-turn to head east toward the Island, transportation officials said.

Motorists heading eastbound who want to make a U-turn are being instructed to travel across the West and East Thorofare bridges onto Ninth Street in Ship Bottom, near the CVS, where they turn left onto North Barnegat Avenue and then make another left onto Eighth Street, which will lead them back to the bridge.

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 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.

Another part of the project included removing the iconic “string of pearls” lighting that adorned the original Causeway and was considered innovative in the 1950s when it was designed and put into place. Schapiro said the lighting system became difficult to maintain and was no longer the best way to light the roadway.

“New decorative lighting elements have been added on the sides of the bridges to preserve the string of pearls look,” Schapiro said. “A new, modern lighting system using LED technology has been added to provide lighting.”

The new system offers better lighting, is more energy efficient and requires less maintenance than the string of pearls system, he said.

“Both the decorative string of pearls lights and the new LED highway lights have been tested and are operational,” Schapiro said. “When the lights were first installed, there were a couple of light fixtures that were not operational, which is common when new systems are installed. However, they were corrected and all of the lights are working.”

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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