Route 52 Causeway will remain open this winter
Proposal for temporary closure to speed construction nixed
(Trenton) - The New Jersey Department of Transportation today announced that the Route 52 Causeway will remain open to traffic throughout the winter as construction proceeds on the project to replace the span linking Somers Point (Atlantic County) and Ocean City (Cape May County).
The decision to make no changes to traffic patterns followed a meeting on Monday during which the Department sought input from elected officials and business owners on a proposal to temporarily close the bridge for approximately two months to speed construction.
“After careful consideration of our options as well as public input, the Department has decided to make no changes to existing traffic patterns, and we will continue to work closely with our contractor to ensure that the bridge capacity needed for the busy summer season is available,” said NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson.
The plan remains to complete work on a southbound fixed span at the Ocean City end of the project by late June, and provide motorists with the normal two travel lanes across the causeway in each direction.
If work has not progressed to that point by late June, the Department will implement a traffic plan to provide for two peak-direction travel lanes each weekend of the summer. At the beginning of each weekend, motorists will have two lanes for travel toward Ocean City and one lane toward Somers Point. At the end of the weekend, motorists heading toward Somers Point will have two travel lanes, compared to just one toward Ocean City.
During the off-season when traffic volumes are low, traffic is restricted to one lane in each direction to accommodate construction activity.
The proposal to close the span temporarily was based on concern that the contractor might not be able to meet a late-June deadline due to weather-related or other delays and on the Department’s recognition of the importance of the summer season to the region’s business owners. In general, construction can proceed more quickly when a work zone is traffic-free.
The project will greatly improve traffic flow for a major recreational destination in New Jersey. The first phase involved building a new middle section of the causeway, completed in the summer of 2009. This second phase involves replacing draw bridges at either end of the causeway with fixed bridges, as well as the creation of a visitor’s center and transforming the Somers Point Circle into a conventional intersection. The new causeway will offer sidewalks for pedestrians and bicyclists and several fishing piers.
The combined construction costs of both project phases is about $400 million. The new causeway is expected to be completed by late 2012.