Driving between Toms River and Seaside involves lane reductions through the winter, as deck replacement begins on the Mathis Bridge. Starting Friday, all traffic heads to the adjoining Tunney Bridge through spring.

The Tunney will carry one lane of traffic heading east, and two westbound, through the winter. The $74,000,000 project continues until May 15, 2017.

New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) officials say that Schiavone Construction crews will spend the day setting up the eastbound lane shift, starting at about 7 AM.

The configuration closes the Douglas Street intersection, but the jughandle there remains open. The adjustment tapers off near Sunset Drive on Pelican Island.

Truckers, you 've got a special heads-up - oversize loads won't be permitted in the eastbound direction over the span. Drivers who contact NJDOT for permits will be advised of alternate routes.

The Mathis Bridge will not open for marine traffic from December 1 until March 15, 2017. If evacuation from the northern barrier island becomes necessary, all Tunney lanes might be pointed westbound.

In addition to deck replacement, the project includes barrier and railing safety improvements, replacement of mechanical and electrical components that operate the drawbridge, upgrades for the bridge operator's station, and new warning gates.

Renovation of the 66-year-old span is expected to be complete by summer 2018.

Visit the NJDOT project page for detailed information about the Mathis rehabilitation. You can e-mail the Project Community Outreach Team with specific questions or suggestions, or call 732-230-7356.

The bridge bears the name of Thomas A. Mathis, a world-class seaman and businessman who settled in Toms River and cultivated a political career that spanned a half-century, including seven terms representing the region in the New Jersey State Senate and 10 years as New Jersey's Secretary of State.

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