Mathis Bridge construction to begin next month

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

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

    Construction on the Thomas A. Mathis Bridge, the causeway that connects Toms River with the Barnegat Peninsula, will begin early next month, officials said.

    Announced last year, the work involves major repairs to the span, which was built in 1950. The bridge is older than the adjacent westbound Tunney Bridge.

    “During the major construction months, the Mathis Bridge will be completely closed to vehicular traffic,” said then-New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox in a letter to impacted municipalities earlier this year. “Eastbound traffic heading to the Barnegat Peninsula will be diverted onto the adjacent Tunney Bridge, and the traffic pattern on the Tunney Bridge will be changed to accommodate one eastbound travel lane and two westbound lanes.”

    Crews will soon construct temporary crossovers to shift eastbound traffic onto the Tunney Bridge and back onto Route 37 eastbound, according to the letter.

    Workers will maintain existing access to local businesses, and pedestrians will continue to have year-round use of the Tunney Bridge sidewalk. In addition, the Mathis Bridge’s lift mechanism will remain in the closed, or down, position between December 1 and March 30 of each construction period.

    To accommodate summer shore traffic, the state will limit major construction activity that requires the full closure of the Mathis Bridge to the off-season months of November through April, starting next month and concluding in April 2018, Fox said.

    The state anticipates that the project will cost approximately $79 million, with funding from the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) under the auspices of the National Highway Performance Program.

    The work had been previously slated to begin last spring.

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