There are two Cape May County-owned bridges and one Cape May County Bridge Commission-owned bridge located along the Ocean Drive (CR 621) Causeway. The three main bridges on the causeway are Mill Creek, Upper Thorofare, and Middle Thorofare. The three bridges were built in 1939 with an expected service life of 75 years, which has been exceeded. Currently, heavy truck traffic is prohibited (load posted at 15 tons) on the Middle Thorofare Bridge. The bridges are currently safe to travel on but do require on-going structural maintenance.
Currently, Ocean Drive is below the 100-year flood elevation, and it is an important evacuation route for the southern end of the Wildwoods. It is the last of the three access points to the Wildwoods to become impassible during a storm, and thus is critically important for evacuation. Much of the roadbed was constructed at an elevation of 7.5 feet on fill in 1940 and has settled to an approximate elevation of 6 feet, which is well below the 11 foot 100-year flood elevation depicted on the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps.
The Local Concept Development (LCD) process will develop a Purpose and Need Statement to help examine alternatives. The Purpose and Need Statement will be used to evaluate conceptual alternatives. A range of alternatives will be studied, such as:
- A “no-build” or “do nothing” alternative
- Major rehabilitation of the bridges
- Bridge replacement
As the bridges serve many varied interests, the LCD Study process is designed to enable full public participation. Future plans for the Ocean Drive Causeway will be presented to the public so that the community’s voices are heard.
During the LCD Study, the Project Team will coordinate with representatives from the NJDOT, Federal Highway Administration, Cape May County, Cape May County Bridge Commission, Lower Township, City of Wildwood, Borough of Wildwood Crest and other stakeholders.
What are the Components of a LCD Study?
Public Outreach – Ongoing
The Project Team will prepare a Public Involvement Action Plan (PIAP) to outline the public participation process during the Study. Public Outreach, an important component of a LCD study, helps guide the planning process by facilitating public input.
Existing Conditions – Spring 2018
The Project Team will gather data from the Ocean Drive Causeway including traffic conditions, crash data, local demographics, and environmental information to inform the LCD Study, in order to inform future recommendations.
Developing the Purpose and Need Statement – Spring 2018
The Project Team will prepare a statement that explains the project’s purpose and need, and goals and objectives. This statement will define the problem that needs to be addressed and describe other issues that need to be considered as part of the overall solution.
Alternatives Analysis – Summer 2018
The Project Team will consider possible conceptual alternatives to meet the Purpose and Need and Goals and Objectives. Engineers will provide technical information for each alternative. The range of options as possible conceptual alternatives will include a “no-build” alternative, major rehabilitation, and replacement for the three bridges. Conceptual alternatives will also be developed to raise the roadway above the 100-year flood elevation. Local officials, community stakeholders, and the public will have an opportunity to contribute to the development of conceptual alternatives.
Final Recommendation – Fall 2018
Once the conceptual alternatives have been identified, the Project Team will incorporate data collected from public outreach, existing conditions, environmental screening, constructability, estimated costs and create an alternatives analysis matrix to recommend a preliminary preferred option, called a Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA).
The Team will develop a conceptual plan for the PPA as part of the final Concept Development Report. Once the PPA receives resolution of support by the municipalities and the County, and with concurrence from the Inter-Agency Review Committee (IRC), the project will move to the Preliminary Engineering phase.