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GWTIDA Applauds the Cape May County Freeholder’s Decision to Support and Fund Rio Grande Avenue Entrance Improvements
The Wildwoods – June 10, 2015 – The Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority (GWTIDA) acknowledged its gratitude for the Cape May County Freeholder Board’s approval to award a $1.276 million contract to Michael Baker International (Baker) – a civil engineering consulting firm in Hamilton, NJ, Mercer County – to design roadway and drainage improvements at the Rio Grande Avenue entrance to the Wildwoods.

The limits of this project are from the George Redding Bridge to Park Boulevard. The design costs are being funded by the County, but the Cape May County Department of Public Works will be seeking state and federal funds for construction.

The intent of the project is to reduce traffic congestion, improve traffic safety, and eliminate the flooding that frequently occurs in this corridor after full and new moon high tides and heavy rainstorms. Much of the congestion occurs at Susquehanna Avenue and Rio Grande Avenue, by motorists wishing to make left turns at the intersection, or to access businesses along Rio Grande Avenue. Rio Grande Avenue is to be raised as much as possible to reduce the flooding which frequently makes this roadway impassible.

To accomplish these goals, Rio Grande Avenue will be widened to provide left turn lanes at the intersections, the roadway profile will be raised, an improved storm water runoff collection system will be installed, and streetscape and new destination signs will be added. These improvements will likely encompass the relocation of aerial and underground utilities, acquisition of rights of way (to widen the roadway) and the screening of potential contamination from several existing and former fueling establishments along Rio Grande Avenue.

“We are grateful to the Freeholders for their support of this much needed improvement project and for ensuring its funding,” said John Siciliano, Executive Director/CFO of the GWTIDA. “GWTIDA and the three municipalities of the Wildwoods, The Borough of Wildwood Crest, the City of Wildwood and the City of North Wildwood, were united in their support of this project and were very pleased that the importance of this project was recognized by the County Freeholders. This project, when completed, will greatly benefit not only the millions of visitors to the island but the year-round residents as well,” he added.

As an interim safety measure, the County has undertaken an initiative to reduce traffic congestion until Baker has completed its design and the improvements are constructed. A temporary slip ramp has been constructed from Susquehanna Avenue southbound to Rio Grande Avenue westbound under a separate contract. This temporary ramp is expected to help alleviate the congestion associated with the northbound Susquehanna Avenue traffic turning left onto Rio Grande Avenue.

The design is expected to take approximately three years due to the permitting process, developing utility relocation plans and securing the necessary right-of-way for the improvements. Construction is expected to commence immediately thereafter.

Baker has been involved in other projects in Cape May County including the 9th Street Improvements in Ocean City (project that is very similar to the proposed Rio Grande Avenue Improvements), Avalon Boulevard Bridge Rehabilitation and Widening and the Route 52 Causeway Improvements. Baker is also very familiar with the Wildwoods based upon their work on the recently completed Wildwood Transportation Study.

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