Governor Christie announced Tuesday that Route 35, from Point Pleasant Beach to South Seaside Park in Berkeley, will be completely rebuilt.
The $215 million project, which will include installing a new and improved drainage system, is expected to be completed by the summer of 2015. Funding will come from federal sources, Christie said.
The governor announced the project at a press conference held with Ocean County officials at the Lavallette Fire Company building, a block away from the state highway that is the focus of the reconstruction project.
The new highway will be 24 inches thick, including asphalt pavement and the stabilizing sub-base materials.
The Christie administration said it will do its best to minimize summer disruptions, but maintained the project is necessary as part of a state effort to rebuild the overall transportation system in areas affected by Sandy.
"Nowhere is that more prevalent than right here on Route 35, which sustained some of the worst damage in the state," he said.
The 12.5-mile storm-damaged stretch of Route 35 runs along the Barnegat Peninsula in Ocean County. The highway, which serves as the primary north-south route along the Jersey Shore peninsula, from Point Pleasant Beach to the entrance of Island Beach State Park, sustained severe damage during Hurricane Sandy.
"The scope of the damage that was left, left us with a choice that mirrors that of so many of our residents and business," said Christie. "Build back just to where we were, or rebuild better and stronger by accelerating our long term plans for Route 35 in this area. I had a decision to make and I've made it. Rebuild better and rebuild now."
The project has been planned for several years, but became a higher priority after the storm, officials said.
"Before Sandy, we had plans to do this project, and we were going to do it over six years," said Transportation Commissioner James Simpson. "The governor said, 'I want it done by the summer of 2015,' and you know how the governor is, so I'll get it done."
The reconstruction project will rebuild this span of Route 35 in a stronger, more resilient manner, while also providing better drainage, a smoother driving surface, improved accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists, and more economical repair and upkeep costs, according to Christie.
The state Department of Transportation expects to seek bids on the first of three highway construction contracts next month, with shovels in the ground this summer. The project has been divided into three geographic sections, with contracts for the other two sections advertised for bids by July, 2013.
Under normal circumstances, the DOT limits summer construction activity along highways that provide access to shore and other vacation destinations. However, work to rebuild the highway will continue through the summer of 2013. Efforts will be made to limit motorist inconvenience during this period and, again, during the summer of 2014, state officials say.
Simpson said at least one lane in each direction will be open at all times during construction. Reconstruction work will be performed in relatively small sections, with alternating traffic patterns within the work zones.
Pump stations will be built at various locations to improve storm water management. The current drainage system fails on a routine basis during heavy downpours, state officials say. The new system will be built to handle 25-year storms, which is the maximum attainable given the peninsula’s geology.
The first construction contract to be awarded will be for the northernmost 3.5 miles of the road, from the border between Point Pleasant Beach and Bay Head to the border between Mantoloking and Brick. This stretch of Route 35 consists of a single road offering one travel lane in each direction.