Traffic Shift Coming to Marsha Drive Area of Route 72 – The SandPaper
Changes to the Route 72 east and Marsha Drive intersection might be unnoticeable to the throngs of motorists who travel that portion of the state highway to Long Beach Island, but the temporary overnight closure allowed removal of the temporary traffic signal near the intersection and paved the way for work to resume.
The road closure, which occurred overnight March 24, was also necessary for the restriping of the roadway to shift traffic to the right, according to the N.J. Department of Transportation. The road was closed between 8 p.m. March 24 and 7 a.m. March 25, transportation officials said in a statement issued hours before the work was slated to occur.
“This will allow for work to resume in the area,” state transportation officials said. “In addition, the traffic signal heads and pedestrian push buttons will be repositioned.”
The final construction contract for the multi-year project is to improve safety and reduce congestion where Marsha Drive intersects with Route 72 at the base of the Causeway, the only roadway on and off Long Beach Island. At Marsha Drive, one of three Stafford Township roadways located on or near the bridge system to LBI, the road will be widened to allow double left-turn lanes onto Route 72 as well as adding a third lane onto the state highway in both directions.
On Long Beach Island, the final phase of the project, which began in 2021, approximately 3,000 feet of Route 72 East and West, known locally as Eighth and Ninth streets in Ship Bottom, will be widened, along with the crossroads of Barnegat Avenue, Central Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard. The state highway ends at the Boulevard near what is currently the Causeway Circle. That is expected to be reshaped to look like the letter D, which will allow for two-way traffic on the Boulevard.
Additionally, a new storm drainage system and new outfalls will be installed in an effort to reduce frequent flooding along Route 72 and these intersections. The project also calls for new sidewalks to be built on Ship Bottom roads impacted by the work. Those sidewalks will be connected to a new sidewalk installed along the Causeway for continuous pedestrian access between Stafford Township and LBI, a walk of over 2 miles.
Also in Ship Bottom, Central Avenue, currently a one-way road southbound between Third and 11th streets, will be converted into a two-way street. Left turns at Central Avenue will be prohibited at the intersections with Eighth and Ninth streets. Five traffic signals will be reconstructed, and a new signal is expected to be installed at Eighth Street where it intersects with the Boulevard.
The overall project has spanned a decade, spread out over five contracts with the full scope including construction of a new bridge parallel to and south of the existing Manahawkin Bay Bridge, rehabilitation of the existing Manahawkin Bay Bridge, and the renovation of three trestle bridges over Hilliards Thorofare, East Thorofare and West Thorofare.
The precise timing of the upcoming projects is subject to change due to weather or other factors. Motorists are encouraged to check the DOT traffic information website, 511nj.org, for construction updates and real-time travel updates.
— Gina G. Scala