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route 72 manahawkin bay bridges project graphic

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why is this work necessary?

Presently, all four bridges exhibit severe deterioration and are outdated. The recently completed deck resurfacing project will extend the life of the deck until the existing Manahawkin Bay Bridge rehabilitation is completed after the proposed new parallel Manahawkin Bay Bridge is constructed.


Age and deterioration of the structures, increased marine and highway traffic, and the potential for storms to disrupt normal operations are some of the reasons why these bridges need to be rehabilitated.

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 continuing development of fatigue cracks in the floor beams of the Manahawkin Bay Bridge and progression of severe rusting requires replacement of its superstructure. The chipping and cracking of the pier caps of the three trestle bridges requires extensive retrofitting for these bridges. It is more cost effective to perform a major rehabilitation than to continue repairing the bridges as problems develop.

deterioration 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.

Q. 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 are currently underway 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 nearing completion.

The superstructure for the existing Bay Bridge has been demolished and is currently being replaced. Substructure repairs and approach roadway work for the bridge will also be performed.

Q. What will be done in Stafford Township?

Proposed improvements to the Marsha Drive intersection at Route 72 are currently in the Final Design stage. 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?

A: Proposed operational and drainage improvements to Route 72 are currently in the Final Design stage and are being discussed with municipal and county engineers. 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.

flooded street photo
A street floods in Ship Bottom.
Q. What was going on recently with repairs on the Manahawkin Bay Bridge?
A: 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.
Q. 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 - 2021
Q. Does NJDOT plan to widen the bridges?

The new configuration will include rehabilitation of the existing bay bridge structure and the new parallel structure to the south. The curb to curb width of each bridge will be 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 will also be 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).

Q. How is NJDOT maintaining pedestrian access along the Route 72 corridor during construction?
A: NJDOT is implementing 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.
Q. How will the project benefit pedestrians and bicyclists?
A: 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.
Q. Will there be areas for public fishing and crabbing?
A: Recognizing the importance of recreational activities in the project area, NJDOT will investigate providing public areas for pedestrian, fishing and crabbing access. The specific locations will be determined with the permitting agencies once engineering studies are completed and local community input is received.
Q. Have the project's improvements been decided?

The project is currently in Final Design and Construction. NJDOT will continue to seek community input on the proposed design and transportation improvements.

Q. How much will it cost and who will pay for it?

The estimated cost of this project is approximately $311 million for design and construction and is both federally and state funded.

Q. How will the project affect the environment?

Environmental challenges that may influence the final design 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.

estuary photo
The Barnegat Bay Estuary contains tidal marshes.
Q. 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.

Q. How can I stay informed or offer suggestions?
  • Check this website regularly for updated information.
  • Attend Public Information Center meetings.
Q. 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 Relations
New Jersey Department of Transportation
1035 Parkway Avenue
Trenton, NJ 08625

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  Last Updated:  April 25, 2018