Category Archives: Cape May Garden State Traffic Signal Construction

The End of Traffic Signals on the Garden State Parkway

The End of Traffic Signals on the Garden State Parkway 

FEBRUARY 4, 2013–Trenton, NJ – Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner (DOT)James Simpson, Congressman Frank LoBiondo and other elected officials participated in a groundbreaking ceremony today to mark the start of construction on a project that will improve safety by removing three traffic lights at Garden State Parkway interchanges in Cape May County — the only three traffic signals on the 172-mile length of the toll road.

“Traffic lights have no place on a busy highway like the Garden State Parkway, and there has been nearly unanimous agreement that the lights at these three Cape May County intersections near the southern end of the Parkway needed to go,” said Lt. Governor Guadagno. “By finally making this project a reality, we will save lives. We will make the Parkway and the local roads safer and less congested for the people who live and work in Cape May County and for the citizens of New Jersey and all those who depend on these roads to get safely to their favorite Shore towns.”

The groundbreaking ceremony was held at the intersection of the Garden State Parkway and Crest Haven Road in Middle Township with the traffic light at Interchange 11 as a backdrop. After a program of speeches, ceremonial shovels of dirt were turned to mark the beginning of the construction phase of the project.

The project will replace the traffic signals at three at-grade intersections with full interchanges. Bridges will be built to carry the Parkway over Shell Bay Avenue (Interchange 9), Stone Harbor Boulevard (Interchange 10) and Crest Haven Road (Interchange 11). Ramps will provide continued full access between the Parkway and the local roads at all three interchanges. Drivers on the Garden State Parkway will no longer have to stop to let local traffic pass, and drivers on the local roads will no longer have to wait at a busy intersection to get to the other side of the Parkway.

“Three people have died in crashes at these traffic lights just since the preliminary design for this project began in 2004,” said DOT Commissioner and Turnpike Authority Chairman James Simpson. “It’s time to get this project done and get those traffic lights out of there. When a problem with a wetlands mitigation site last year looked like it might delay construction, we promised to do whatever we had to be in a position to award the contract in December and get the work underway by early this year. I’m happy to say we were able to do that.”

The traffic lights have been in place since before there even was a Garden State Parkway. They were installed when the former New Jersey Highway Department built a bypass around Cape May Courthouse in the 1940s. They remained after the bypass was incorporated into the Parkway when the toll road opened in 1954.

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which operates the Parkway, awarded a construction contract to the Richard E. Pierson Construction Co. of Pilesgrove, NJ, in December. Pierson was the lowest of four bidders. The total cost of the project is $110 million, about $15 million less than originally projected.  The project is being paid for with $32 million in federal funding secured by Congressman LoBiondo and $78 million from the Turnpike Authority’s 10-year capital program.

Construction is expected to take about two years.  The first steps will be to relocate utilities and to construct a temporary diversionary road parallel to the northbound Parkway. The diversionary road, which is expected to be completed in about three months, will carry Parkway traffic while the overpasses are being constructed.

The New Jersey No Net Loss Reforestation Act requires state agencies to replace any trees removed during a construction project. About 26 forested acres will be impacted by the construction of the improvements at Interchanges 9, 10 and 11. There is enough room in the vicinity of the project to plant new trees on about 20 acres. In addition to planting those trees, the Turnpike Authority will pay $382,500 to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to plant and maintain trees on an additional 6.25 acres of public land away from the project area.

The project will also impact 4.62 acres of freshwater wetlands and 2.37 acres of tidal wetlands. To compensate for those impacts, the Turnpike Authority will spend $5 million to restore, preserve or enhance more than 38 acres of wetlands in Cape May County and to buy credits in a wetlands mitigation bank.

“This important project is one of several major capital investments the Turnpike Authority is making on the Garden State Parkway in South Jersey,” said Turnpike Authority Executive Director Ronnie Hakim. “The Authority is spending nearly $700 million, or about 10 percent of its capital program budget, just on projects in Cape May and Atlantic Counties. That work is creating jobs, relieving congestion and making the Parkway safer.”

Other Garden State Parkway projects underway or about to begin include widening the road by one lane in each direction between Egg Harbor Township and Toms River; making major improvements to the Bass River, Mullica River, Patcong Creek, Great Egg Harbor and Drag Channel bridges; removing the Beesley’s Point Bridge; replacing the Bass River State Police barracks; and building complete interchanges at mileposts 41 and 44 in Galloway Township, Atlantic County.

Parkway Closures April 1 through Thur., April 4

WEEK OF APRIL 1 – With the multi-year Garden State Parkway construction project now getting in full gear, it’s time for motorists to get out their GPS units and look for alternative routes. Motorists using the Parkway during the hours of 9 p.m. to 5 a.m from Mon., April 1 through Thur., April 4 will need to have an alternate route in mind. The Parkway will close all lanes of northbound and southbound traffic to allow construction workers access to the highway sans traffic.
According to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, motorists can expect the following lane closures April 1 through April 5:

Mon. Apr. 1 –Thur. Apr. 4 Southbound Mile Post 11.1 to 9.9 ROAD CLOSED 9 p.m.– 5 a.m.
Mon. Apr. 1 – Thur. Apr. 4 Northbound Mile Post 9.9 to 11.1 ROAD CLOSED 9 p.m. – 5.a.m.
Mon. Apr. 1 – Thur. Apr. 4 Southbound Mile Post 9.9 to 8.4 ROAD CLOSED 9 p.m. – 5 a.m.
Mon. Apr. 1 – Thur. Apr. 4 Northbound Mile Post 8.4 to 9.9 ROAD CLOSED 9 p.m. – 5 a.m.

Mon. Apr. 1 – Thur. Apr. 4 Southbound Mile Post 11.9 to 8.0 2 Right Lanes 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Fri. Apr. 5 Southbound Mile Post 11.9 to 8.0 2 Right Lanes 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Mon. Apr. 1 – Thur. Apr. 4 Southbound Mile Post 11.9 to 8.0. 2 Right Lanes 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Tue. Apr. 2 – Fri. Apr. 5 Southbound Mile Post 11.9 to 8.0 2 Right Lanes 5 a.m. – 7 a.m.
Mon. Apr. 1 Southbound Mile Post 11.9 to 7.5 1 Right Lane 6 a.m. – 9 a.m.
Tue. Apr. 2 – Fri. Apr. 5 Southbound Mile Post 11.9 to 7.5 1 Right Lane 7 a.m. – 9 a.m.
Mon. Apr. 1 – Thur. Apr. 4 Southbound Mile Post 11.9 to 7.5 1 Right Lane 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Mon. Apr. 1- Fri. Apr. 5 Northbound Mile Post 7.5 to 11.9 1 Right Lane 7 a.m. – 9 am.
Tue. Apr. 2 – Fri. Apr. 5 Northbound Mile Post 7.5. to 11.9 2 Right Lanes 5 a.m. – 7 a.m.
Mon. Apr. 1 – Thur. Apr. 4 Northbound Mile Post7.5 to 11.9 2 Right Lanes 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Fri. Apr. 5 Northbound Mile Post 7.5 to 11.9 2 Right Lanes 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Mon. Apr. 1 – Thur. Apr. 4 Northbound Mile Post 7.5 to 11.9 2 Right Lanes 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Garden State Parkway Work Starts to Eliminate Traffic Signals

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Work is finally under way to eliminate three Garden State Parkway traffic signals, and the agency that operates the highway said longstanding problems at several other interchanges could be addressed soon.

John Withers, supervising engineer for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, spoke Thursday at Cape May County’s annual Transportation Infrastructure Conference. While Withers spoke, heavy equipment was working nearby removing 26 acres of trees and constructing a new access road for the $125 million project to remove signals at Crest Haven Road, Stone Harbor Boulevard and Shell Bay Avenue. It is a project first envisioned in 1961.

“We’re very close. There’s light at the end of the tunnel and we hope it’s not a train,” Withers said.

He also said the authority doesn’t intend to stop there. It’s already planning an $8 million project at Exit 0, where the parkway abruptly ends in a tricky merger with Route 109. It has been the scene of numerous fatal accidents that eventually resulted in the demolition of a house motorists kept running into when the highway ended.

“Our schedule is to award a design contract in two or three months. It would start in the fall of 2014 and take nine months to one year,” Withers said.

The project includes a new traffic signal, jughandles and warnings lights for motorists that the parkway is ending.

Withers said the authority is also aware of other exits that were never made into full interchanges, such as Exit 6 to North Wildwood and Exit 20 in Ocean View.

“We want a full interchange at 20. In the past we made partial interchanges and they’ve been problematic. There is still a need for other interchange improvements, but there is a pecking order,” Withers said.

One thing is clear: The authority is spending significant money in Cape May County. Withers also outlined a $280 million project about to get under way to refurbish the northbound parkway bridge over Great Egg Harbor and Drag Channel, replace the southbound span, and demolish the Beesley’s Point Bridge. Bids for the contract were received Thursday morning.

“They’ll start in May or June and complete it in mid-2016. It could be earlier. It depends on contractors and the weather,” Withers said.

In an earlier speech, state Department of Transportation Assistant Commissioner Richard Hammer said almost $900 million has been spent on transportation projects in the county by the DOT and NJTA since 2005.

State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, said the investment has “been staggering,” but Van Drew also put in a plug to consider extending Route 55 to the shore. It now ends at Maurice River Township in Cumberland County. Van Drew acknowledged there are environmental concerns, as the last 20 miles or so of the roadway would cross a lot of wetlands.

“You could have a raised elevated highway. It’s a very difficult challenge. It doesn’t mean we should give up on it,” Van Drew said.

Cumberland County Freeholder Sam Fiocchi said he would propose a resolution supporting the project in his county and urged the Cape May County Freeholders to do likewise.

“It would help your tourism industry and economic development in Cumberland County,” Fiocchi said.

The conference was held in Cape May County but included updates of projects throughout the region, including new parkway bridges over Bass River and the Mullica River, a new bridge to Long Beach Island, a parkway widening project from milemarker 80 to at least 35 and possibly to 30, new seating on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry vessels, improvements to Atlantic City International Airport and many others.

Hammer said the state is making road and bridge progress. In 2010, he said, only 50 percent of the pavement on state roads was deemed acceptable but it is now up to 59 percent. In 2010 the state had 323 deficient bridges but the figure is now at 293.

“There is only one structurally deficient bridge in Cape May County and that’s the Route 50 Tuckahoe River crossing, and it’s going to construction later this spring. Cape May County will be the only county in the state with no structurally deficient state bridges,” Hammer said.

“We have a bridge or two we would sell to you,” said Cape May County Freeholder Will Morey.

Hammer said the focus is on existing roads and bridges and that is why he doubted there would be funding any time soon for a Route 55 extension.

“I’m not saying Route 55 isn’t a great idea,” he noted.

Withers said the parkway is an existing road and it took years to get federal permits to eliminate the traffic lights.

“Permitting on a brand new road is next to impossible. It’s very difficult to get anything new built,” Withers said.

Original Content Richard Degener: