With the summer season heating up, lots of New Jerseyans are heading down the shore for some fun in the sun.

Traffic jam with rows of cars (Aleksandra Glustsenko, ThinkStock)
Aleksandra Glustsenko, ThinkStock

Traffic congestion, especially from Friday afternoon through Sunday evening, will most certainly become a regular part of the mix, but state transportation officials are doing what they can to help keep things moving.

“The New Jersey Department of Transportation  always limits construction activity in the summer on shore routes, so travelers going to shore locations should expect to be unimpeded by construction work, at least planned construction work,” the agency's spokesman Kevin Israel, said.

The DOT still has to complete work on the Route 37 Mathis Bridge project, but the two spans on the project are open to traffic and construction on the bridge has been suspended for the summer.

In addition, Israel said “one of our biggest projects is the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridge project, the $350 million reconstruction and refurbishment of the bridge that leads to Long Beach Island. That work has also all been suspended. We actually have all four lanes of traffic on and off the island working on the newly constructed bridge. The original bridge no longer has traffic on it at the moment.”

He pointed out reconstruction work on that span will begin in the fall.

“There’s also the Route 50 Tuckahoe bridge down in Cape May County, which again is open for traffic, and should not be an issue for travelers,” he said.

Israel added one long running project that began a few months after Superstorm Sandy has just been finished.

“The Route 35 reconstruction is actually complete. There should only be some minor work such as landscaping and drainage to complete, but the motoring public will have the full use of the reconstructed Route 35, and  bicyclists will be able to use bike lanes and pedestrians will have new sidewalks and crosswalks to provide easy access to recreational areas,” he said.

Some construction activity on one major roadway connecting to many shore routes will continue this summer, but a spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (the agency that oversees the road) said it should not adversely affect travelers.

Authority spokesman Tom Feeney, in an email response, said Phase 3 of the Parkway widening project will continue through the summer, “but contractors are restricted on when they can close lanes. Any work that required a lane closure would have to be done during non-peak hours (that usually means overnight). People driving to the Shore might see work going on behind barriers, and they might encounter lane shifts, but the normal number of lanes will be open through all of these work zones during peak periods through the summer.”

He said the project is adding a third lane in each direction between mileposts 35 and 48 in Atlantic County (the first two phases of the widening, which added a third lane in each direction between mileposts 48 and 80 , have already been completed).

The new lanes are scheduled to open in both directions north of milepost 42 at the end of this year. The remaining lanes are scheduled to be completed in 2018.

Other Turnpike Authority projects include:

  • Parkway Interchanges 36, 37 and 38:  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 contracts for Phase 3 of the Parkway Widening. These improvements are scheduled to be completed in 2018.
  • Great Egg Harbor and Drag Channel Bridges (Parkway): A new southbound span is being built to the west of the existing southbound span over Great Egg Harbor and Drag Channel. The nearby Beasley’s Point Bridge on Route 9 is being demolished as part of this project. This project is scheduled to be completed this fall. The Authority plans to rehabilitate the existing northbound span and demolish the existing southbound span.
  • Parkway Interchange 105: This project is intended to improve access to and from the Parkway in Monmouth County as well as safety and operations at the Hope Road/NJ Route 36 intersection. The improvements include a new southbound connection from the Parkway outer roadway to Wayside Road, the addition of a second northbound deceleration lane from the Parkway outer roadway to Interchange 105 and the reconstruction of the Hope Road/NJ Route 36 intersection.

Contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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