Public Urged to Address Below-Bridge Bike Path Safety Concerns With DOT

Nov 08, 2017
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Pedestrians and bicyclists say the pedestrian walkway and bike path underneath the East Thorofare Bridge is a danger zone, and has been for months. The area is part of the extensive $350 million Route 72/Manahawkin Bay Bridge project. The concerns are something state Department of Transportation officials take seriously.

“In addition to assigning a safety coordinator to every construction project and performing regular inspections, NJDOT encourages community members to voice any concerns or contribute suggestions to the Project Team by calling the Office of Community Relations at 609-530-2110,” Dan Triana, public information officer for the state agency, said.

Once work in the area is completed, a new fence will be installed between the bulkhead and the pedestrian walkway under the bridge, according to Triana. The walkway is used by walkers and bicyclists to cross to the other side of Route 72 without having to make use of the roadway intersections at Eighth and Ninth streets.

The DOT plans to fully restore the bike path and the pedestrian walkway, Ship Bottom Mayor William Huelsenbeck has said. The original pathway was built in the mid-1990s with a $25,000 Community Development Block Grant. It’s being fixed along with other changes to the bridge so there is less maintenance, according to the mayor.

When the bridge project is complete it will comprise bicycle lanes, including wider outside shoulders on the twin Manahawkin Bay bridges, and 6-foot bike lanes on the trestle bridges. The new configuration will allow bicyclists to come off the bridge by the Ship Bottom boat ramp and head north to Surf City without crossing traffic on Eighth or Ninth streets, which are the gateway entrance and exit to the Island. Guardrails will also block bicyclists from entering traffic lanes on the bridges.

Additionally, the bridge project includes intersection enhancements in the borough. The upgrades are designed to augment traffic flow for north- and southbound traffic on Long Beach Boulevard, and along Eighth and Ninth streets. In February, the DOT announced plans to create a new drainage system of underground gravity flow pipes along Eight and Ninth streets from the Boulevard to the bay. It will help improve driving conditions during heavy rainfalls and during flooding. The new system will direct runoff to two new, separate outfall locations on the north and south sides of the East Thorofare Bridge, according to the DOT.

In the end, the Causeway, a 3-mile stretch connecting the mainland, Stafford Township, to Long Beach Island, will entail one big bridge to carry traffic west, or off the Island, and another bridge to flow eastward. The new bridge, next to the old one, is 2,400 feet long with a vertical clearance of 55 feet above Manahawkin Bay.

Gina G. Scala

ggscala@thesandpaper.net

 

 

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