How do you spell bad timing? Ask the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT).
It's planning to start work on the Route 72 Causeway in July! That's the only access from the mainland to Long Beach Island, unless you come by boat.
DOT officials had said in March construction would not take place during the summer months due to the tourism season.
But the project was expedited to start July 20 (though the newly erected signs say the work will begin on July 17th). That's because the project was funding received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and must be spent quickly to rapidly create jobs and complete infrastructure projects.
The $4.18 million contract was awarded June 4. About 100 construction jobs will be created for rehabilitation of the bridge deck, ceiling cracks and safety walk, along with reconstruction of curbs and a resurfacing of the deck to preserve and protect the structure, until its replaced. That's scheduled in 2012.
Back in January, the DOT said the contract would be awarded in July, with work beginning around Labor Day.
Business representatives in southern Ocean County are worried about the expedited schedule, even with assurances the work will be done at night. They're questioning the government's attempts to launch an economic stimulus by creating work for 100 contractors at the expense of tourism related jobs. They say the project will hurt tourism on Long Beach Island. If you've ever sat in traffic along Route 72 from Philly or the Parkway on a hot summer morning, you might agree.
While there are efforts underway to extend the tourism season, the summer months still make or break businesses on Long Beach Island.
The Causeway carries about 42,000 cars per day during the summer.
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