Pacific Avenue is a major artery in Atlantic City’s Tourism District, connecting travelers to six casinos, hotels, restaurants, beaches and the Boardwalk. Though only a few miles along, it can feel like an eternity to travel. This is the result of unsynchronized traffic lights that leave motorists frustrated and anxious to get to their destination.

The Venice Park Bridge is another sore spot for residents and tourists alike. The Federal Highway Administration identified the bridge as in need of replacement in 2013, and the years since have only exacerbated the aging bridge’s structural problems. Plans to replace the bridge have stalled for too long.

Atlantic City’s Tourism District has understandably been a little quieter this season as New Jersey grapples with COVID-19. However, the pandemic won’t last forever. We must set Atlantic City on the path to recovery from this crisis, and pick up where we left off in breathing new life into the city. This includes improving and replacing infrastructure that simply isn’t working anymore. Over 37,000 residents and 24 million annual tourists use Atlantic City’s roads and bridges, and they must be equipped to move travelers smoothly and safely.

My colleague Assemblyman John Armato and I have been working diligently to support infrastructure improvements in Atlantic City. We recently sent a letter to the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization expressing the urgency of the Pacific Avenue traffic situation and asking that the agency expedite the grant process. We also reached out to the New Jersey Department of Transportation urging it to develop a working plan for the Venice Park Bridge replacement. The project has long been a priority of the Atlantic City Council, but it proved to be challenging to execute.

With the grant funds now secured for Pacific Avenue, we are thrilled to see the Atlantic City Council move forward in selecting an engineering firm to take on this project. It won’t be long before traffic is moving smoother on Pacific Avenue.

The City Council recently took another important step in announcing the 14-month project to replace the Venice Park Bridge will begin in October. Finally, we are on our way to making this vital structure safer and more accessible to all.

Moving these projects forward will be integral to Atlantic City’s revitalization during and after COVID-19. We applaud the City Council for taking action to address these critical points of concern.

While the pandemic has placed so much on hold, we will one day return to what we call “normal.” When that happens, Atlantic City’s infrastructure must be ready.

Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic, of Northfield, represents the 2nd Legislative District, which includes most of Atlantic County.

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