If a full moon and rain are in the forecast, you can bet the route many take into and out of Atlantic City is impassable.
Here’s what we know so far about the state’s plan to fix Route 40’s flooding:
The Department of Transportation is raising a portion of the road by up to 2.5 feet in a project that will cost around $27.5 million and take three and a half years to construct, the state agency said in an email last week.
A majority of the project will be federally funded. A one-mile section of the road from Naples Avenue to Bayport Drive in Egg Harbor Township will be elevated. Transportation officials say that will reduce flooding there from about 10 events per year to two.
The Route 40 ramp that turns onto West End Avenue in Atlantic City will be elevated, too. Sheet piles will be driven along the side of the ramp ranging from 1.5 to 3.5 feet above the current elevation. The project will improve the road’s drainage system and fill a gap in an existing seawall at Brenta Avenue in West Atlantic City.
“(The seawall) should help reduce flooding on local streets,” said NJDOT Spokesman Stephen Schapiro.
The expected construction start date has been pushed back to 2022.
Talks of raising Route 40 have been ongoing for years, spurred by coastal flooding that frequently shuts down what is one of the main evacuation routes on Absecon Island.
Still, some local legislators are concerned about the impact construction may have on tourism and the short, three-month window many businesses have to make a profit.
During half of the construction period, Sen. Chris Brown said, the state plans to reduce access on Route 40 from four to three lanes while directing drivers to the Atlantic City Expressway, a toll road. The closures will help speed up construction.
In a letter to transportation officials last week, Brown asked that the state schedule lane closures outside of the summer months.
“Route 40/322 provides critical access to our $2.8 billion casino industry, access to the beaches which support Atlantic County’s seven billion dollar tourism industry, and access to Stockton’s AC campus,” Brown wrote. “Any restriction of this roadway raises a concern with me.”
Currently, officials are finishing the project’s Preliminary Engineering phase and are working on an environmental assessment before starting the Final Design phase in the fall. Public information sessions are being scheduled in the next few months.