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news release

P.O. Box 600
Trenton, NJ
Contact: Joe Dee or Tim Greeley
RELEASE: May 24, 2012

$400 million Route 52 Causeway project
reaches major milestone
Full travel capacity restored in
advance of busy Jersey Shore summer season

(Somers Point) - New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner James Simpson joined Congressman Frank LoBiondo and state and local officials today to mark a major milestone in the construction of the new $400 million Route 52 Causeway that spans Great Egg Harbor Bay.

The gleaming concrete structure provides a multimodal link for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians between the Jersey Shore destinations of Somers Point in Atlantic County and Ocean City in Cape May County. It served as a backdrop for today's event that started with a speaking program in a park in Somers Point and concluded with a ribbon-cutting in Ocean City.

"This is a great way to kick off the summer tourism season, with the new causeway and bridges providing safe and convenient access to this stretch of the Jersey Shore," said NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson. "The Christie Administration understands the connection between investments in our transportation infrastructure and a strong economy. Easing travel to popular destinations enables residents and visitors to support local businesses while enjoying New Jersey's natural beauty and recreational opportunities."

Construction of two new bridges that bookend the causeway was completed earlier this month, enabling NJDOT to open the permanent four-lane traffic configuration that will greatly improve safe and efficient travel across the harbor. With the bridge construction phase finished, workers now will turn their attention to project amenities and will complete the project by the end of the year.

The causeway provides wider 12-foot travel lanes as well as eight-foot-wide shoulders and a 10-foot-wide walkway. The old causeway had no walkway and no shoulders to accommodate disabled or emergency vehicles. The causeway provides two travel lanes in each direction and serves as a critical evacuation route. Construction on the causeway portion of the project between the two bridges began in late 2006 and was completed in 2009.

A project feature that represents a significant improvement is the elimination of two lift bridges. Those moveable bridges, at either end of the old causeway, were a chronic source of traffic congestion when they were opened to allow boats to pass, especially in the busy summer season when the causeway accommodates as many as 40,000 cars daily. The new fixed spans that have replaced the lift bridges provide 55 feet of vertical clearance and allow marine traffic to pass with no disruption to the flow of automobile traffic.

The new causeway reflects the Department's commitment to Complete Streets, by providing a multi-use sidewalk for pedestrians and bicyclists. The old causeway, built in 1933, had no such accommodations. The walkway extends the full length of the project, separated from the roadway shoulder by a railing. Bicyclists from organizations that advocate for safe accommodations for all who share New Jersey roads attended the event and rode across the bridge with others who traveled by car or trolley bus.

"Thousands of residents and visitors will benefit from the improvements associated with the causeway project in our beautiful city, and we look forward to the completion of other project amenities that will keep Somers Point among the premiere Jersey Shore destinations," said Somers Point Mayor Jack Glasser.

In Somers Point, MacArthur Boulevard has been widened to include a center turning lane, and the former Somers Point Circle at the foot of the causeway has been converted into a multiple-lane four-way signalized intersection with crosswalks for pedestrians and bicyclists.

"We appreciate NJDOT's efforts to communicate and coordinate with us since ground was broken on this project in late 2006, and we look forward to a spectacular summer season for our restaurants and businesses as tourists find it easier than ever to enjoy all that Ocean City has to offer," said Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian.

Work on additional bridge features will continue through the end of the year but will not impact traffic. They include fishing areas along the bridge, boat ramps, parking lots and a reconstructed Ocean City Visitors Center.

Including improvements to the roadway approaches to the causeway in Somers Point and Ocean City, the project extends for about 3 miles, including two miles of bridges and causeway.

NJDOT broke ground on the project in October, 2006. The first phase replaced the middle of the causeway, from Elbow Island to Garrets Island, a distance of 1.2 miles. That phase was built under a $145 million contract by George Harms Construction Co.

The second phase of the project started in September, 2009. A $256 million contract was awarded to Route 52 Constructors, a joint venture of R.E. Pierson Construction Co. and Wagman Construction Inc. The contract included demolition of two lift bridges and their replacement with fixed spans over Ship Channel near Somers Point and Beach Thorofare near Ocean City.

Work under the second contract also included construction of the multi-use sidewalk, improvements in Somers Point and other features that will be completed by the end of 2012. The project is funded with a combination of state and federal funds.

Community and media response has been quite favorable as the 2012 summer season begins for Somers Point and Ocean City.

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  Department of Transportation
  P.O. Box 600
  Trenton, NJ 08625-0600
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  Last Updated:  June 19, 2012