Some Rt. 35 Construction to Continue This Summer [AUDIO]
Drivers along Route 35 this summer can expect to see a mixed bag as the state's construction project to repair the ravaged barrier island road continues.
Engineers and New Jersey Department of Transportation officials presented the plan for the future of the project, which spans 12.5 miles from Point Pleasant to Island Beach State Park. Officials said that while major work will cease beginning on Memorial Day, it will still continue in other capacities.
"We will be working in a small section of Brick and Toms River on (Route) 35, where it's a divided highway with two lanes in each direction," said Joseph Dee, NJDOT chief of staff. "We will take one lane out of service."
In addition to the 2.5-mile stretch along Route 35, crews will be working on drainage projects on side streets during the summer as well.
During a press conference in Seaside Heights with DOT engineers and attended by residents and local officials, Dee said the need for summer work is the result of being slowed down by a brutal winter. Crews also encountered a host of unmapped underground pipes and utility wires that halted progress.
"The construction company starts to dig, they see a pipe that's not supposed to be there, they have to stop and identify it," Dee said. "It slows everything down considerably."
Officials said the $265 million project is slated for completion around summer of 2015. However, Dee said some aspects of the job could continue beyond that.
Dee said drivers traveling through the area during the summer can expect to see parts of the road finished with drainage installed, "but then there will be other sections, it's a going to be a patchwork, where they will encounter old roadway that the contractors haven't gotten to yet."
The construction was a sore point for many of the residents and local officials in attendance -- many who worried it would either cause even more delays, drive off visitors, or pose a danger to pedestrians or drivers.
DOT officials assured residents they would do everything they could to prevent traffic congestion, noting the work will be significantly decreased in the summer months and plans could be altered if the need arises. Members of the DOT also reminded those who attended the press conference that the inconvenience would be temporary.
Several residents complained about the mess being left by construction crews, but Dee said contractors will have everything cleaned in time for the tourism season.
"By then you will see debris, whether it's asphalt or sand that might be spilling onto the sidewalks, will be removed," Dee said. "That's the idea, to get (Route) 35 in a usable condition before the onslaught for what we hope will be a very busy summer season for residents and businesses."
Additionally, bike lanes and pedestrian walkways will be installed along 10 of the 12 newly-built miles of roadway. More than 1,288 ramps and at least 200 pedestrian countdown beacons will be installed as well.