See which road projects could affect your Jersey Shore commute
Delay-causing automobile accidents and overwhelming volume can already make for a nightmare trip to and from the Jersey Shore. You don't need construction projects making matters worse.
Luckily, lane closures and other travel inconveniences this year may not be as frequent as summers past in the Garden State.
We reached out to the agencies that handle most of New Jersey's major roads headed for and from the shore to get a rundown on summer roadwork.
Garden State Parkway
Tom Feeney, a spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, pointed to three ongoing projects on the Parkway, south of the Driscoll Bridge.
"The work that's going on right now is what drivers are going to see during the summer," Feeney said. "There's always plenty of traffic without the construction projects, but what's going on out there work-wise, I don't think is going to add greatly to the traffic on the Parkway."
No long-term lane closures are planned, but the lanes have been shifted.
Project description from NJTA's capital investment report:
This partial interchange will be completed to provide full access between the Parkway and Chevalier Avenue in order to accommodate existing traffic volumes and future growth resulting from the development of the waterfront. The work includes the replacement of bridges on the mainline of the Parkway, improvements to the local roadways, a new northbound Parkway entrance, a reconfigured southbound Parkway entrance, and a new southbound Parkway exit. The new exit, which will be built just before the Raritan South toll plaza, will have an E-ZPass-only toll facility.
Exits 36, 37 and 38
Improvements are being made at the three interchanges. It's also the site of the third and final phase of Parkway widening work. Again, no long-term lane closures are planned, but drivers will see lane shifts.
This project will improve traffic operations at these closely spaced interchanges by adding a deceleration lane on the southbound Parkway and an acceleration lane on Tilton Road at Interchange 36 and by separating the traffic entering the Parkway at Interchange 38 (Atlantic City Expressway) from traffic exiting the Parkway at Interchange 37 (Washington Avenue, CR 608). These intersection improvements were included in one of the four contracts for Phase 3 of the Parkway Widening.
Feeney noted drivers in the area will have fewer places to pull over in the event of an emergency or accident, so a simple fender bender could result in bigger traffic problems than usual.
Great Egg Harbor Bridge
Not much of an impact is anticipated as all traffic has shifted onto an adjacent span as the bridge deck undergoes reconstruction.
A new southbound span over Great Egg Harbor and Drag Channel opened to traffic in 2016. The $142.9 million project included the demolition of the nearby Beesleys Point Bridge. Under a separate contract awarded in 2016, the Authority will rehabilitate the existing northbound span and demolish the existing southbound span.
State highways and interstates
The state Department of Transportation limits construction activity in the summer on shore routes except for emergency work.
"We understand that the Jersey Shore is very popular in the summer," said spokesman Steve Schapiro. "Having easy access and making sure that traffic flows as best as possible is really important to the regional economy and also it’s vital for emergency evacuations."
Route 37/Mathis Bridge
Work on the bridge is happening over three winter construction periods. Following phase two, all three lanes in both directions opened on May 12 and work will resume in the fall.
Project description from Schapiro:
Construction began in the fall of 2015 on the $74 million federally-funded project to replace the existing bridge deck on the Route 37/Mathis Bridge between Stafford and Seaside Heights, which is 67 years old. The project also will make safety improvements to the barrier and railings and repair and replace mechanical and electrical components that operate the moveable lift span.
Route 72/Manahakwin Bay Bridges
Some off-highway work will continue through the summer, but it will not affect traffic. During the summer, the normal two lanes of traffic are maintained, as was the case each of the last few summers.
The three-mile long causeway links Stafford on the mainland with Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island, but is structurally deficient and functionally obsolete after 57 years in existence.
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 in the event that one of the bridges needs to be closed. The new bridge is 2,400 feet long with a vertical clearance of 55 feet over Manahawkin Bay.
Route 50/Tuckahoe Bridge
The reconstruction project is expected to wrap up before the summer.
The project, which began in 2013, was designed in a way that maintained access across the bridge during construction and with its completion motorists will find driving to the Cape May County shore resorts this summer much smoother.
The $11.7 million federally-funded project demolished and replaced the existing, structurally-deficient bascule lift drawbridge with a new low-level, fixed-span structure over the Tuckahoe River. The project also reconstructed and widened the highway in the vicinity of the bridge, and made safety and operational improvements at intersections including the addition of new dedicated turn lanes.
Route 49 in Maurice River and Estell Manor
Work continues through the summer, but during off-peak hours. No lane closures will be permitted Friday through Sunday.
There is a five-mile paving and guiderail replacement project on Route 49 in Maurice River (Cumberland County) and Estelle Manor (Atlantic County) that will be done this summer. Work will be done at night 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., Monday through Thursday and there will be alternating traffic.
The largest-ever NJDOT project in South Jersey, and the main route for those heading to the shore from Philadelphia, will be an active construction site that may include lane shifts and new traffic patterns. Motorists can expect the normal amount of travel lanes. Any lane or ramp closures would occur overnight during the week.
The $900 million federally-funded Direct Connection project will provide a seamless route for I-295 motorists traveling through the interchange of I-295, I-76, and Route 42. Approximately 250,000 vehicles travel through the interchange daily to and from Camden, Philadelphia, and other destinations.
Contract 1 is nearly complete and all of the roadways are open. Major accomplishments this past year included the completion of the Creek Road bridge construction, paving on Route 42, and paving on I-295 south of the interchange. The Bell Road Bridge was previously replaced. In the coming months small crews will perform punch list work with no major traffic impacts expected.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.