Large vessels can now cruise the entire Barnegat Bay as drawbridge openings resume

    The Mathis Bridge in June 2015. (Photo: Justin Auciello/for NewsWorks)

    The Mathis Bridge in June 2015. (Photo: Justin Auciello/for NewsWorks)

    Boat owners have been springing into action with the recent warm and dry stretch.

    And with the last Sunday’s reopening of the Thomas A. Mathis Bridge for marine traffic, owners of large vessels seeking to travel the entire stretch of the Barnegat Bay can now do so.

    Closed since late last year to accommodate construction work on the bridge that connects Toms River and the northern Ocean County barrier island, the bascule span of the Thomas A. Mathis Bridge is now temporarily operational for the warmer months, state Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Israel said.

    The $74 million project involves involves a deck replacement, safety improvements, and mechanical and electrical work on the span, which was built in 1950. The adjacent J. Stanley Tunney Bridge has been carrying both directions of traffic.

    Israel said the DOT expects to soon restore all lanes of traffic.

    “All three lanes on each bridge will be open to traffic between May 15 and September 15,” he said.

    The lane closures will resume after the summer season. The state anticipates that the work, which had been previously slated to begin in the spring of 2015, will end prior to the summer of 2018.

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