Emergency Bridge Work Completed; Traffic Pattern at Full Summer Capacity

Jun 15, 2018

Emergency work on the Causeway requiring the temporary daytime closure of one lane in each direction was completed Thursday, June 14, one week ahead of schedule, according to state Department of Transportation officials. The closures were necessary to stabilize slopes near the West Thorofare Bridge.

The work began Monday, June 4, with an eastbound lane closure from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. That work was completed earlier than anticipated on Thursday, June 7. Work on the westbound side of the Causeway began Monday, June 11, and was completed in the late afternoon of Thursday, June 14.

Work included installing steel sheeting into the bay floor around the west abutment to the West Thorofare Bridge between Cedar Bonnet Island and Bonnet Island in Stafford Township. Although some remaining sheeting work is required, it can be performed off the roadway and will have no impact on traffic.

“The deterioration is not occurring at the main bridge but at the west abutment of the West Thorofare Bridge, one of the three trestle bridges. Severe erosion from stormwater runoff traveling down and along the embankment is washing away soil from under the shoulder and around the guardrail,” Steve Schapiro, DOT director of communications, has said.

Earlier this month, after pushback from local officials, agency officials said the severity of spring storms accelerated the deterioration of the slope to such a point the integrity of the roadway shoulder and guardrail was threatened. That, they said, was the reason for the lane closures.

“The work required the driving of steel sheet piles, which was extremely loud and would be very disruptive at night,” state officials said in announcing early completion of the project. “As NJDOT’s Commitment to Communities, the Department worked closely with local officials to establish a schedule that allowed the work to get done in the shortest amount of time and in a way that minimized the impact to traffic and to residents.”

In related news, the DOT has decided against a request for additional lane closures this summer to accommodate the pouring of concrete.

“The contract allows lane closures Monday through Thursday from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. during the summer,” Schapiro said. “The concrete deck pours have been ongoing and will continue during those allowable lane closure hours.”

Work on the $312 million Route 72/Manahawkin Bay Bridge project began in 2013 and is expected to continue through 2021. The 3-mile-long Causeway links Stafford on the mainland with Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island.

As part of the project, a new bridge has been constructed parallel to the existing one over Manahawkin Bay, providing the safety of a redundant route on or off the Island. The new bridge is 2,400 feet long with a vertical clearance of 55 feet over Manahawkin Bay. It currently has two lanes in each direction while the original Causeway Bridge is being rehabilitated. Ultimately, it will function as the bridge for eastbound traffic once the project is completed, with the rehabilitated original bridge carrying westbound traffic.

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, Twitter @NJDOT_info.

— Gina G. Scala

ggscala@thesandpaper.net

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