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From Sun. AC Press:

2-lane closure begins today along Route 52 causeway
By MICHAEL MILLER Staff Writer, (609) 463-6712
Published: Saturday, January 14, 2006
Updated: Saturday, January 14, 2006

OCEAN CITY-Two lane closures on the main entrance to Ocean City will be permanent, the state Department of Transportation said Friday.

For Ocean City and Somers Point, that means almost-certain gridlock for summers to come.

"Somers Point will be backed up to Route 9. The traffic circle is going to become a parking lot," Cape May County Engineer Dale Foster said.

The state is trying to prolong the lifespan of two dilapidated bridges on the Route 52 causeway by limiting the weight on them, spokeswoman Erin Phalon said. This is the busiest by far of four routes into Ocean City.

State workers today will barricade the causeway while repair crews restripe this four-lane road and shore up the railings. The road will be closed through 6 a.m. Wednesday. But the lane closures will remain.

Ocean City police Chief Robert Blevin said ambulances will be able to use a berm to get unimpeded to Shore Memorial Hospital, even on the busiest summer day.

Meanwhile, trucks heavier than 4 tons will be banned from this road. NJ Transit buses will be exempt from the weight restriction, Blevin said.

Cape May County traffic will fare no better. With heavy trucks detoured to the 34th Street Bridge, Roosevelt Boulevard in Upper Township will face more logjams, too, Foster said.

Blevin said the city will study its traffic history to come up with ways to reduce congestion on the busiest travel days.

"We have serious concerns," Community Services Director Michael Dattilo said. "Their whole project schedule over multiple years called for just one off-peak season of one-lane traffic in each direction."

On Friday, the DOT's Phalon confirmed the road will be cut to two lanes for good.

"It is safe to drive on. But if you ask me if there are problems with the bridge, yes, they need to be replaced," she said.

The state is taking a second look at the new twin bridges it hopes to build to replace the dilapidated causeway. The state rejected bids for the project in December after they came in far over the $150 million budgeted for the first half of construction.

The bid rejection postponed the start of construction by at least six months. The state DOT had no better timetable on when the project might be rebid.

City officials were discouraged by the news.

"They committed to monitoring these bridges through the construction and do what they had to do to keep them open," Dattilo said.

The state even relocated the new bridges farther from the old causeway to reduce the likelihood of damage to the old road from vibration or other construction. The state closed the old Ocean City Longport Bridge permanently shortly after construction began on the new Ocean City-Longport Bridge in 2000.

On Friday, county crews helped the city mark detour routes and post lighted message boards. The Garden State Parkway also noted the detour. Speed-limit warnings were placed on Bay and West avenues for motorists tempted to try to catch up on lost time created by the detour.

To e-mail Michael Miller at The Press:

[email protected]
 

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I think alot of people havn't realized how huge this issue is yet. Ocean City is going to suffer tremendously because of this for the next 5 years or so. The traffic is going to be so unbearable here that people are going to avoid the city. Businesses will suffer, rentals will suffer and the residents like me who live on the island will suffer. I have spoken with several business owners who are already very worried about the coming season because of this. If the city has any clue they will do whatever it takes to take down the toll on the longport bridge. That would ease the congestion in Somers Point and relieve people from having to pay a toll after being stuck in traffic for an extended period. At the very least they should get a commitment from the county to waive the toll anytime the 9th street bridge is closed or when there is an extended delay on the Longport bridge. Removing the toll would also reduce the volume of traffic on the 9th street bridge since they are conserned with extending its life so bad.
 

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SP is backed up to rt9 on a summer holiday w/e anyway! It'll be backed up onto the parkway now. And what's going to happen when 9th drawbridge gets stuck in the summer heat! Man, the CMC Bridge Commission has to love this, no way that toll is gonna dissappear! Wonder why you now have to pay a toll at the GE toll plaza heading southbound, while all the rest are a toll charge heading northbound!
 

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The lane closing isn't as bad as you think. I drove over it today. Some areas you have to go just a little slower like 50 mph instead of the 75mph as most of the shoobies try to do. Also you can still access the fishig areas easily. I thought it was going to be worse then it is. If you don't want to deal with the traffic stay home I know it will make the locals happier (just kidding).
 

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bbum:
Did they open it back up today? Last night it was still completely closed. :confused:
 

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Yikes - I own a house in Ocean City and this is the first I am hearing of this - I planned on living there all summer and commuting to work - I might have to rethink that - I guess only time will tell.
 

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I live just a couple of blocks from the bridge in OC. The traffic jams on the weekends are going to be monumental. I also fear that the jams ups will now be happening on weekdays as well which has never been a big problem in the past.

Heading towards OC the way they bottlenecked it to two lanes on the downside of the drawbridge is gonna be a source of accidents and tie ups as people try to merge. Any way you slice it this is gonna be a nightmare and yes us locals are gonna be really miserable. Ha Ha!!!!
 

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sraab928 you can still use the longport bridge or the 34 th without delays depending where your house is located. The real problem still is when the bridge gets stuck open. That is what causes monumental problems. I am thinking of buying a vespa to get around traffic when it gets crazy. If the shoobies don't like the traffic I suggest they go to Wildwood and then they will remember why they have been coming to Ocean City all these years.
 

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Our house is on 17th street - I will try and use 34th street but often find the offramp on the GSP to get quite backed up there.

One thing is for sure - I'm not going to let it ruin our summer, we will just have to deal with it.
 

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Originally posted by candyman:
Went over last night and it wasn't too bad. The bridges are reduced to 3 lanes with emergency lane down middle. They put concrete barriers up against railings on Rainbow and Elbow .
Yep, from what I am hearing this will be the case for quite a few years now..Trucks and Buses over 4 tons have also been banned..
 

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Originally posted by bbum:
I am thinking of buying a vespa to get around traffic when it gets crazy.
you might be taking your life in your hands on one of those things in OC during the summer. look how many morons take their bodies there for vacation, yet leave their brains at home. if you buy one, paint it safety orange, and have the loudest horn on it that is always sounding while you are driving. i saw a guy riding one get hit last summer on tilton road, and it was not pretty.
 

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This has been coming for a few years. The bridges really need to be replaced, but it will be a headache. This is just the excuse I need to spend more time at the house and out fishin and less time workin. I can deal with the traffic once I'm off the bridge, walk, bike or better yet just stay on the boat and fish. The longport bridge will be getting pretty busy this year. They will be making big money for the next few years.
 
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