TOMS RIVER - Can you believe two winters have gone by in which we've squeezed onto the Tunney Bridge between Toms River and Seaside, during Mathis bridge reconstruction? If you've driven it, of course you can. Maybe even counted the minutes. Well, it starts again October 27, and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) says the project wraps up for good in Spring 2018.

Schiavone Construction crews begin moving traffic barriers and reconfiguring traffic signals at the foot of Route 37, at about 7 AM Friday. The Tunney Bridge will carry two lanes of traffic westbound, toward Toms River, and one in the opposite direction.The eastbound side will not be wide enough to carry wide-load big rigs. Drivers need NJDOT permits, and once obtained, they'll also get alternate-route directions.

If there's a need to evacuate the barrier island during construction, all three lanes on the Tunney will be converted to westbound traffic. The Mathis is scheduled to be closed for boat passage from December 1 until March 15, 2018.

This time around, the span gets new deck panels, a new four-bar parapet, bearing replacements, upgrades for the bridge operator's station, structural steel repairs of the anchor and bascule sections, and improvements for the electrical and mechanical systems.

The entire refurbishment's cost has been estimated at $74,000,000. NJDOT has never clearly explained why, with so many former drawbridges converted to higher, fixed spans like the Tunney, the decision was reached to continue a span that routinely ties up traffic on either side when marine traffic requires raising of the roadway.

It's named for former New Jersey State Senator Tom Mathis (1869-1958) of Toms River, who also served as New Jersey's Secretary of State from 1931 to 1941.

Point Pleasant Beach RR Xing Replacement 10/26-11/2

Starting Thursday, and lasting a much shorter time than the Mathis project, is reconstruction of the Arnold Avenue railroad crossing in Point Pleasant Beach. That's scheduled only until November 2.

Two-way traffic on Arnold will be rerouted between northbound Route 35-Cincinnati Avenue and Cooks Lane.The detour runs along southbound Route 35-Richmond Avenue, to Atlantic Avenue, Chicago Avenue, on either side of the work zone.

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