Habitat and Ecosystem Conservation,  New Jersey,  Quality of Life Benefits of Transportation

NJDOT’s Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges Project Enhances Environment and Quality of Life at the Jersey Shore

At the Jersey Shore, the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges connect Stafford Township to Ship Bottom. This recent project is a shining example of how the New Jersey Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, keeps critical infrastructure in a state of good repair while incorporating features that enrich the character of local communities. 

The $319 million project provides two lanes of traffic and full shoulders in each direction – a critical feature since this “causeway” (series of bridges) is the only way on and off Long Beach Island for emergency services and coastal evacuation.

Building safe and reliable infrastructure is NJDOT’s most recognizable job, but projects like this demonstrate our ability to also be stewards of the environment, promote good health for residents, provide better access to recreation for everyone, and incorporate what is important to the community.

NJDOT partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement a $9.6 million environmental project that provided public access to Cedar Bonnet Island for the first time. The former dredge material storage site was enhanced through the creation and mitigation of wetlands and the improvement of stormwater basins in the ecologically sensitive Barnegat Bay watershed.

Additional accommodations associated with the Rt. 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges project include:

  • A scenic walking trail along the Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge and Cedar Bonnet Island, with parking nearby.
  • Enhanced fishing and recreation areas around the bridges, with railings that make it easier for those with disabilities to fish.
  • Space for safe bicycling across all bridge spans.
  • A six-foot sidewalk across the old bridge span where one did not previously exist.
  • Preservation of the iconic 1950’s “String of Pearls” lighting effect

NJDOT finished this project one year ahead of schedule, promoting and supporting summer tourism.