A $350 million project will soon get underway to improve access to Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore.

The Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Causeway is now the only way to drive from the mainland to Long Beach Island. State officials say the 53-year-old span is outdated.

Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson says construction of a new bridge will begin in the spring, and when that's completed, the existing span will be rehabilitated.

"These twin bridges will span the bay side by side," said Simpson. "Yet they will be completely independent of one another so that if one bridge gets damaged or has some sort of a problem we will still have some way to get on and off an island which we don't have today."

Construction of a new bridge will begin in the spring, and when it's completed, the old bridge will be rehabilitated.

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno says having two bridges will be a big improvement.

"If Irene and Sandy have taught us anything we can't have just one way in and one way out," said Guadagno. "The bridge will ensure that you have easy access in and out if there is another disaster, but also it will give confidence to the people of the state of New Jersey that we are moving ahead."

The project could take seven years to complete. It will include a barrier-protected walkway for pedestrians and wide shoulders so bicyclists can travel over the causeway.