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route 72 manahawkin bay bridges project graphic


The Route 72 Causeway in Ocean County, New Jersey connects Long Beach Island with the mainland, carrying traffic over the Intracoastal Waterway on the Manahawkin Bay Bridge and three trestle bridges. It is located in Stafford Township and Ship Bottom Borough. Major improvements are needed to maintain this vital lifeline for Long Beach Island residents and visitors. The Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges Project involves the construction of a new structure parallel to and south of the existing Manahawkin Bay Bridge, rehabilitation of the existing Manahawkin Bay Bridge, and the rehabilitation of three trestle bridges

over Hilliards Thorofare, East Thorofare, and West Thorofare. Other planned improvements include:

  • A six-foot sidewalk on the westbound (north) side of Route 72, with connections to communities and points of interest on the south side of the roadway;
  • Bicycle accommodations, including wider outside shoulders on the twin Manahawkin Bay Bridges and six-foot bike lanes on the trestle bridges;
  • Improvements to the intersection of Route 72 and Marsha Drive in Stafford Township to alleviate seasonal traffic delays; and
  • Intersection improvements in Ship Bottom, designed to improve traffic flow for both north/south traffic on Long Beach Island and along 8th and 9th Streets, and drainage improvements to improve access during heavy rainfalls and high tides.
  • Environmental mitigations including wetland creation, mitigation for freshwater wetlands and retrofit of two existing stormwater basins within the Barnegat Bay watershed and public access improvements.
project area map graphic

Initially a Feasibility Assessment was completed in 2007 to evaluate a variety of alternatives. During the Preliminary Design Phase, an Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared for this project and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has approved a Finding Of No Significant Impact (FONSI) (pdf 683k). The project has avoided environmental impacts to the maximum extent practicable, however, some mitigation will still be required. A mitigation plan was developed in coordination with regulatory agencies during the permitting phase of the project. The project also provides opportunities for the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) to improve public access to the waterfront, including areas for fishing and crabbing. The "String of Pearls" lighting formerly seen on the existing Manahawkin Bay Bridge at night will be replicated on the outside of both the existing and new Manahawkin Bay Bridges using current technology to improve reliability, but these lights will not be visible from the roadway. Highway lighting poles utilizing Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology will be provided to light the roadway.

string of pearls photo
The "String of Pearls" lighting as it once looked on the Manahawkin Bay Bridge.

The project is currently in Final Design and Construction. The New Manahawkin Bay Bridge construction contract was awarded on April 24, 2013 with construction activities beginning May 3, 2013. Construction is anticipated to continue through 2020. Since Route 72 is vital to the tourist economy, four lanes of traffic will be provided continuously during construction in the summer months.

project location map

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  Department of Transportation
  P.O. Box 600
  Trenton, NJ 08625-0600
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  Last Updated:  November 18, 2015