Christie Administration accelerates Route 52 Causeway Replacement project
Restructured contract ensures four travel lanes this summer and cuts five months from causeway construction
(Trenton) - The Christie Administration today announced changes to the Route 52 causeway construction contract that will benefit Ocean City and Somers Point business owners and visitors by ensuring four travel lanes during the busy summer tourist season.
Under an agreement reached by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the contractor, motorists will have two travel lanes in each direction over the entire length of the causeway, including construction sites at either end where lift bridges are being replaced with new fixed spans. The agreement also shaves five months from the construction schedule of the project’s critical causeway section.
“This agreement culminates productive negotiations with the firm that is building a pair of fixed bridges in Somers Point and Ocean City, and demonstrates that the Christie Administration has listened to the concerns expressed by local residents, business owners and elected officials,” said New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner James Simpson. “This $400 million project will greatly improve access to a premier Jersey Shore destination at a crucial time for businesses and vacation travelers.”
Under the agreement between NJDOT and Route 52 Constructors, two travel lanes in each direction will be available to motorists by Memorial Day and throughout the summer season along the entire causeway. Remaining causeway work primarily involves replacing two lift bridges – one on either end of the causeway – with new fixed bridges, and demolishing the old lift bridges.
The new fixed bridge at the Ocean City end of the causeway is being built two lanes at a time, allowing motorists to use two lanes prior to completion of the other two. Accordingly, motorists this summer will use two travel lanes on the new bridge – nearing completion now – to travel toward Ocean City, and will use two lanes on the existing lift bridge for trips toward Somers Point.
The lift bridge will be demolished in the fall, providing room for the contractor to build the other half of the new bridge.
Under the restructured contract, completion of the causeway fixed bridges will be reached by Memorial Day, 2012 instead of October, 2012. The time savings primarily will be generated by shifting work this summer to a less constrained work environment in the Somers Point construction zone. Work on the Somers Point end of the causeway will not reduce traffic capacity in and near Somers Point, where four travel lanes will be maintained this summer.
Improvements in Somers Point leading to the causeway, along MacArthur Boulevard and at the Somers Point Circle which is being replaced by a signalized intersection, is expected to be sufficiently completed to allow for full traffic flow by late June, 2011.
In Ocean City, work on a section of 9th Street from Bay to West avenues will be completed by late June, 2011, restoring two travel lanes for motorists driving from Ocean City to the causeway.
After Memorial Day, 2012 and continuing through October, 2012, work to complete the project will include building a visitor’s center in Ocean City, building a boardwalk in Somers Point, creating fishing piers and landscaping.
Construction on the Route 52 Causeway Replacement Project began in October, 2006, with a $145 million contract to replace the middle 1.2 miles of the 76-year-old causeway from Elbow Island to Garret’s Island. Work was completed in the summer of 2009.
The $251 million contract to replace the two lift bridges began in September, 2009. The lift bridges, which cause traffic to back up when they are raised to allow marine traffic to pass, are being replaced with fixed bridges that will offer 55 feet of clearance for boats in accordance with Coast Guard regulations.
Motorists make about 40,000 trips across the causeway each day during the summer season.
Real time travel and construction information is available online at www.511nj.org