Department of Transportation

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is this work necessary?

Prior to the start of the work, all four bridges exhibited severe deterioration and were outdated. A deck resurfacing project was undertaken to extend the life of the existing Manahawkin Bay Bridge in anticipation of its rehabilitation work.
Age and deterioration The existing Manahawkin Bay Bridge and three trestle bridges along Route 72 are over 50 years old. Their serviceable life without major rehabilitation is limited based on their existing conditions and the increasing expenditures of tax dollars for necessary repairs. The development of fatigue cracks in the floor beams of the Manahawkin Bay Bridge and progression of severe rusting required replacement of its superstructure. The chipping and cracking of the pier caps of the three trestle bridges required extensive retrofitting for these bridges. It is more cost effective to perform a major rehabilitation than to continue repairing the bridges as problems developed.

eterioration photo
Deterioration of the girders of the existing Manahawkin Bay Bridge.
trestle bridge photo
Three trestle bridges will be rehabilitated as part of the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges Project.
Traffic. Highway traffic on Route 72 to Long Beach Island has increased with additional population and the popularity of the shore areas. The combination of increased recreational and commuter traffic causes more congestion on the bridges and its access roads, which also hampers access for emergency vehicles. The project will provide wider lanes and shoulders on Route 72 and improvements to Marsha Drive to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion. Additionally, constructing a new parallel Manahawkin Bay Bridge will provide redundancy for the bridge crossing that can be used during a possible emergency and/or for future maintenance and rehabilitation of either of the twin bridges.

Storms. Route 72 is a coastal evacuation route and is a vital link as the only access point to and from Long Beach Island. The improvements will allow better traffic flow, shoulders for increased safety and emergency access, continuous sidewalk access from the mainland to Long Beach Island, and relief from storm-related drainage issues in Ship Bottom.

Long Beach Island is an important summer tourist destination and therefore is vital to the economic viability of the region. Economic activity and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) depend upon the availability and efficiency of the Route 72 Causeway.

What is happening at the present time?

The construction of the new bridge was completed and the structure was open to traffic in April 2016.

The East and West Thorofare Bridges have been rehabilitated to address deteriorated elements of these structures. New traffic barriers/railings, deck sections, deck joints and sidewalks are under construction at the roadway level. Below-the-deck repairs include pier spalls, cleaning and painting of bearings and timber pile preservation jackets. Similar repairs were completed for the Hillards Thorofare bridge.

The construction of two basin retrofits along Route 70 in Brick Township has been completed. The Environmental Mitigation Site has been cleared and herbicide applications have been completed. Grading and Landscaping activities are also completed.

The superstructure for the existing Bay Bridge has been demolished Completely and replaced. Substructure repairs and approach roadway work for the bridge has also been performed. Final Design for the drainage, traffic and pedestrian improvements in Ship Bottom has been completed. Construction is anticipated to begin in February 2021.

What will be done in Stafford Township?

The final design of proposed improvements to the Marsha Drive intersection at Route 72 have also been completed. Marsha Drive is a local road connecting Bay Avenue to Route 72 and to Beach Haven West on the south side of Route 72. During the summer months, Marsha Drive southbound traffic turning left onto Route 72 towards Long Beach Island backs up to Bay Avenue, causing long traffic delays. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) will make improvements to this intersection to ease these delays.

In addition, the rehabilitation of four existing bridges and the construction of the new bridge across Manahawkin Bay are also located within the Stafford Township limits.

What will be done in the Borough of Ship Bottom?
flooded street photo
A street floods in Ship Bottom.
The final design of proposed operational and drainage improvements to Route 72 has been completed. NJDOT has decided to combine the Long Beach Island drainage and intersection improvements into the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridge Project.

Drainage and traffic issues along 8th and 9th Streets in Ship Bottom will be improved. Part of the project will improve traffic operations on Long Beach Island as well as upgrade the drainage system along 8th and 9th Streets to improve access onto and off of Long Beach Island during heavy rainfalls and high tide events.

What was going on recently with repairs on the Manahawkin Bay Bridge?
In 2010, NJDOT completed a Route 72 Deck Rehabilitation Project to repair the existing deck and provide a sealing overlay on the existing Manahawkin Bay Bridge to extend the life of the deck until the major existing bridge rehabilitation can be completed.
What is the schedule for the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges Project?
Construction began on May 3, 2013. The following is a proposed schedule:
Feasibility Assessment Phase Completed in 2007
Environmental Document Approval Completed in September 2011
Design Phase(s) End of 2019
Construction Phase(s) 2013 - 2024
Does NJDOT plan to widen the bridges?

The new configuration includes rehabilitation of the existing bay bridge structure and the new parallel structure to the south. The curb to curb width of each bridge is 49 feet. This width will accommodate two 12-foot lanes, a 12-foot left shoulder, and a 13- foot right shoulder in each direction in the final traffic configuration. The new bridge will carry eastbound traffic and the existing bridge will carry westbound traffic. The rehabilitated existing bridge will also have a six-foot sidewalk on the north side.

The three structures over Hilliard's Thorofare, West Thorofare, and East Thorofare have also been rehabilitated. The existing bridge decks will be repaired and reconfigured to provide two 11-foot lanes and a six-foot bike lane/shoulder in each direction, and a six-foot sidewalk in the westbound direction (on the north side).

How is NJDOT maintaining pedestrian access along the Route 72 corridor during construction?
NJDOT implemented a shuttle service flyer (pdf 733k) between the mainland and Long Beach Island for pedestrians and bicyclists when the sidewalk is closed during construction activities.
How will the project benefit pedestrians and bicyclists?
In the final configuration, there will be a sidewalk on the north side of Route 72 (westbound direction) connecting Stafford Township and the Borough of Ship Bottom, with connections to communities and points of interest along the way on the south side of Route 72 (eastbound direction). The 13-foot outside shoulders on the twin Manahawkin Bay Bridges and six-foot shoulders on the trestle bridges will allow for bicycle access to and from Long Beach Island from the mainland.
Will there be areas for public fishing and crabbing?
Recognizing the importance of recreational activities in the project area, NJDOT has constructed public areas for pedestrian, fishing and crabbing access.
Have the project's improvements been decided?
Most of the project has been constructed, with the exception of the Route 72 and Marsha Drive Intersection and Ship Bottom Improvements which are scheduled to begin construction in February 2021. NJDOT will continue to update the community regarding the progress of construction.
How much will it cost and who will pay for it?
The estimated cost of this project is approximately $328 million for design and construction and is both federally and state funded.
How will the project affect the environment?
flooded street photo
The Barnegat Bay Estuary
contains tidal marshes.
Environmental challenges that influenced the design of this project include: wetlands, threatened and endangered species, aquatic life, submerged aquatic vegetation, noise and air quality, hazardous materials, archeology, historic buildings or structures, and socioeconomic considerations. An Environmental Assessment (EA) document was completed to study the potential impacts and mitigation measures.
Will there be detours and delays?
Detours are neither viable nor planned for this section of Route 72. While some lane shifts will be required, two lanes of traffic will be maintained in each direction during the summer tourist season. Any reduction in lanes or temporary lane closures would only occur during the off-season and will not be allowed during special community events.
How can I stay informed or offer suggestions?
  • Check this website regularly for updated information.
  • Attend Public Information Center meetings.
What if I have other questions or concerns about the project?
NJDOT encourages community members to voice their concerns and contribute suggestions to the Project Team. To provide input, attend one of the public meetings or contact:
Office of Community and Constituent Relations
New Jersey Department of Transportation
1035 Parkway Avenue
Trenton, NJ 08625

Last updated date:January 11, 2021 3:11 PM->