The visitors center and the bicycle-pedestrian path along the reconstructed Route 52 causeway are now scheduled to open sometime in March, a state Department of Transportation spokesman said Friday.
The "final project closeout" is now targeted for mid-May, according to spokesman Joe Dee.
The two amenities are the final pieces of the most expensive bridge project New Jersey has ever completed: a six-year, $400 million replacement of the 2.2-mile causeway that serves as the main route into Ocean City for residents and visitors.
The project had originally been scheduled to finish by the end of the calendar year. But in December, officials had set a new target date of Jan. 31.
Superstorm Sandy on Oct. 29 had caused damage and delays as crews worked to restore a wetlands area below the new Ninth Street Bridge — using the new visitors center for access. That project and work to remove a temporary ramp are complete, and crews are now working to complete roadwork providing access to the visitors center.
Colored lighting on the supports below the bridge were recently added, providing an aesthetic and functional (markers for boat traffic) element to the project, Dee said.
He said final costs for the project are not yet available, and he did not know if there would be penalties for the delays in the completion of the project.
The causeway opened to car traffic in May with two new towering fixed-span bridges and an elevated roadway connecting them. But construction crews have been continuing work on a new mid-causeway visitors center, fishing piers, boat ramps and the separated pedestrian/bicycle path.
Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean Regional Chamber of Commerce, which will staff the new visitors center on the causeway, said in December that the Chamber had hoped to move in on March 1.
The Chamber will now hope for a move before Easter, which arrives early this year (March 31).
Gillian said the existing Welcome Center at Ninth Street and Simpson Avenue will remain open and provide the same services for at least six months as a transition.
Parts of the separate lane for bicycles and pedestrians have been open, and a new ramp that loops underneath the new bridge on the Somers Point side is also open. The ramp provides easy access to Bay Avenue without crossing the busy intersection at the end of the causeway.