Taking action to repair and restore the Jersey shore's transportation system, Governor Chris Christie today announced an aggressive schedule to completely rebuild a 12.5-mile storm-damaged stretch of Route 35 along the Barnegat Peninsula in Ocean County. The highway, which serves as the primary north-south route along the Jersey Shore peninsula from Point Pleasant Beach to the entrance of Island Beach State Park, sustained severe damage during Superstorm Sandy and requires immediate attention so that residents and visitors can resume normal travel in Ocean County. The reconstruction project will rebuild this span of Route 35 in a stronger, more resilient manner, while also providing better drainage, a smoother driving surface, improved accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists, and more economical repair and upkeep costs.
"The destruction wrought by Sandy is evident almost everywhere you look up and down Route 35, from Point Pleasant Beach to the entrance of Island Beach State Park. In the days after the storm, our transportation professionals did truly remarkable work along the entire highway, removing thousands of truckloads of debris and sand to make way for emergency responders, contractors and homeowners. As we have marked the rebuilding of our homes and businesses throughout the state, we now look forward to rebuilding Route 35 stronger and better," said Governor Christie. "Today, we're announcing an investment of more than $200 million in federal highway funds to rebuild this stretch of Route 35. This commitment demonstrates the determination we have to rebuild after epic devastation and heartbreaking losses as residents, businesses and this Administration work together to restore the Shore in ways that will help us all stand stronger."
The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) expects to seek bids on the first of three highway construction contracts next month, with shovels in the ground this summer. The project has been divided into three geographic sections, with contracts for the other two sections advertised for bids by July, 2013.
The project will completely rebuild the roadway from Point Pleasant Beach to Berkeley, install a new and improved drainage system with pump stations and includes construction of Complete Streets features on state-owned land to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists in a safe manner. Utility companies will be installing new underground water, sewer, natural gas and communication lines as well.
Construction costs are expected to exceed $200 million, with project completion by the summer of 2015.
"Superstorm Sandy tossed around the roadway's massive concrete slabs like dominos and destroyed the roadway's underground drainage system," said NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson. "We are accelerating this federally funded project to help restore a sense of normalcy as residents and businesses rebuild along what has been and what again will be a spectacular stretch of Jersey Shore."
The new highway will be 24 inches thick, including asphalt pavement and the stabilizing sub-base materials. Damage to this type of roadway is repaired more efficiently than repairs to the existing concrete-slab roadway, which is only 8 inches thick.
Under normal circumstances, NJDOT limits summer construction activity along highways that provide access to shore and other vacation destinations. However, work to rebuild the highway will continue through the summer of 2013. Efforts will be made to limit motorist inconvenience during this period and again during the summer of 2014.
Pump stations will be built at various locations to improve storm water management. The current drainage system fails on a routine basis during heavy downpours. The new system will be built to handle 25-year storms, which is the maximum attainable given the peninsula's geology.
Complete Streets features, such as sidewalks, roadway shoulders and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant ramps, will be built during roadway construction activities where there is sufficient NJDOT right-of-way. While NJDOT has acquired some land in recent years in anticipation of this project, no additional land will be purchased for this project.
The first construction contract to be awarded will be for the northernmost 3.5 miles of the road, from the border between Point Pleasant Beach and Bay Head to the border between Mantoloking and Brick. This stretch of Route 35 consists of a single road offering one travel lane in each direction. Reconstruction work will be performed in relatively small sections, with alternating traffic patterns within the work zones.
Route 35 consists of a divided highway that generally offers two travel lanes in each direction over the remaining 9 miles of the project area. This configuration allows the Department to accommodate at least one lane of traffic in each direction at all times.
The Department will work with local officials to minimize inconvenience for motorists, residents and businesses, especially during summer seasons, while at the same time scheduling the work in a manner that creates opportunity to complete the project prior to the summer of 2015.