Have you tried out your new bridge to Ocean City yet?
If not, you might as well. Because you're paying $400 million for it through your state and federal income taxes.
The state is less a year away from completing a massive five-year project to replace the main route into Ocean City: the Route 52 causeway that leads to Ninth Street. The project involves elevating the entire causeway and building two new bridges. See story
Early reviews of what's complete are great. The causeway itself is a work of art, and the views from a towering new bridge span are spectacular. But whether or not it will get you to Ocean City quicker remains to be seen.
Construction crews raced and succeeded in opening two lanes of traffic in each direction by Memorial Day Weekend. But over the holiday weekend, it became apparent that the trip between the Garden State Parkway and Ocean City is only as quick as its slowest point.
And the single lanes of traffic on the Somers Point roads leading from the Parkway to the new causeway (Laurel Drive and MacArthur Boulevard) had cars waiting as long as an hour to get off the island on Memorial Day. See video
Construction crews will complete another lane in each direction on MacArthur Boulevard by June 24 (though there are no plans to expand Laurel Drive, the 25 mph suburban street just off the Parkway).
In the meantime, if you're heading to Ocean City this weekend (forecast for Saturday looks great), do yourself a favor and be ready to use 34th Street Bridge (Parkway Exit 26) or the Ocean City-Longport toll bridge.
Doug Bergen is editor of Ocean City Patch.