Ocean County causeway project part of $50B nationwide program Obama wants passed

WASHINGTON – As part of an effort to get pieces of his American Jobs Act passed after Senate Republicans blocked the vote on it, President Barack Obama urged Congress to approve $50 billion worth of transportation projects around the country and put thousands of construction workers on the payrolls.

Among those is a road and bridge replacement project on the Route 52 Causeway, stretching between Somers Point and Ocean City.

The project in Ocean County calls for replacing two fixed and two moveable bridges with two bridges that will have two spans over Ship Channel and Beach Thoroughfare (Intracoastal Waterway) and a touchdown on Rainbow Island.

The new roadway section will have two 12-foot lanes and 8-foot minimum outside shoulders in each direction separated by a concrete median barrier.

The state Department of Transportation said that overall, the Causeway project is a $400 million undertaking that began in 2006 and will last into next year.

The project is critical because in case of emergencies, this roadway is an evacuation route, the state DOT said.

The project also called for eliminating the Somers Point Circle. Construction will continue on the existing north and southbound lanes of the Route 52 bridges at Elbow and Garrets Islands and the roadway over Rainbow Island.

In addition to the $50 billion, another $10 billion investment would go into the bipartisan National Infrastructure Bank.

“Construction workers have been among the Americans hit hardest over the past few years. And that makes no sense when there’s so much of America that needs rebuilding,” President Obama said in a statement.

“This week, Congress has the chance to do something about it and pass a bill that will put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, airports and transit systems.

“It’s a bill that includes the kinds of ideas both parties have voted for in the past, it’s paid for, and its ideas are supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people. It’s time for Congress to act.”

It is expected that the Senate will vote Thursday on the package.

The administration has also directed the federal Department of Transportation to award $527 million in competitive grants for various projects, making more federal funds available for transportation projects, and setting up a Transportation Rapid Response Team to review various on-ground transportation projects.

Ocean County causeway project part of $50B nationwide program Obama wants passed