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$110 Million Project Set to Begin to Remove the Only Three Traffic Signals on Garden State Parkway

All three lights are in Cape May County.

The Garden State Parkway is on its way to becoming completely free of traffic signals.

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner and New Jersey Turnpike Authority Chairman James Simpson and Congressman Frank LoBiondo joined other elected officials at a groundbreaking ceremony announcing the removal of all three traffic signals on the Garden State Parkway Monday morning, Feb. 4.

The signals will be removed via a $110 million project to be performed by the Richard E. Pierson Construction Company, out of Pilesgrove. Pierson Construction was the lowest of four bidders, according to NJDOT.

Federal funding secured by LoBiondo in the amount of $32 million, along with $78 million from the Turnpike Authority's 10-year capital program will help pay for the project, according to NJDOT.

About 26 forested acres of land will be impacted by the project, according to NJDOT. Under the New Jersey No Net Loss Reforestation Act, the state is required to replace any trees removed during construction.

New trees can be replanted on about 20 acres of land, and 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 not located in the project area.

The Turnpike Authority will also be spending $5 million to restore, preserve or enhance over 38 acres of wetlands area in Cape May County in response to 4.62 acres of freshwater wetlands and 2.37 acres of tidal wetlands that will be impacted by the project, NJDOT said.

The three traffic signals are located at Parkway interchanges at interchanges 9 (Shell Bay Avenue), 10 (Stone Harbor Boulevard) and 11 (Crest Haven Road) in Cape May County. They are the only three signals on the toll road, which spans 172 miles.The traffic signals have been in place since the 1940's, and were incorporated into the Parkway when the road opened in 1954, according to NJDOT.

The goal of the project is to improve safety, Guadagno said.

“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," Guadagno said. "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 project will see three bridges built, one at each interchange. Ramps will also be constructed at all three interchanges, in an effort to provide continuous access between the Parkway and local roads.

“Three people have died in crashes at these traffic lights just since the preliminary design for this project began in 2004,” Simpson said. “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.”

“This important project is one of several major capital investments the Turnpike Authority is making on the Garden State Parkway in South Jersey,” Turnpike Authority Executive Director Ronnie Hakim said. “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.”

The project is expected to take about two years, and will begin with the relocation of utilities and the construction of a temporary diversion road parallel to the northbound side of the Parkway, according to NJDOT.

The diversion road is expected to completed in about three months, and will carry traffic for the duration of the project, according to NJDOT.

Steve Glaspey February 05, 2013 at 09:58 AM
I wonder how long they will drag this project out. The GS Parkway has been on a single lane addition over the Patcong Creek (above exit 30 for Ocean City), for over two years. The Empire State Building was built in 400 days.
Eleanor February 05, 2013 at 10:43 AM
Three people died at these intersections in the past 9 years - yes it is a tragedy but even if you can prove that the intersection and the fact that there were traffic lights was at fault - not careless driving, not alcohol, not distraction, not poor road conditions - this is a hugely costly project to remove lights that have been there for nearly 70 years. And the shell game with reforestation to make the environmentals happy adds on to the project. And lets not forget, whatever "fund" this money came out of, the money that went in to the fund was taxpayer money. A big wasteful needless project to prove that the governor cares about south jersey?
Mac February 05, 2013 at 02:47 PM
NJ, say goodbye to the Summer of 2013. The activities at the Jersey Shore will be strictly hit or miss at best. Monmouth and Ocean County shorelines have been redesigned by Hurricane Sandy and they won't be habitable or available for more than a handful of the normal summer visitors/residents. Some rides and boardwalks may be rebuilt and open, but there is no place for most of the summer visitors/residents to stay. Atlantic City, well, let's just say AC has never missed an opportunity to shoot itself in the foot and make other places look more attractive. I think it has something to do with greed and corruption. Now, the Parkway will be reconstructing the only major roadway in Cape May County that leads to the Wildwoods and the Cape Mays, thus spreading the normal summer gridlock more evenly throughout the county. No matter how one looks at it, it's a lose/lose package, and not just for this summer. Many tourists will choose the go elsewhere this summer to vacation, and as such, may like where they go very much and never give NJ another thought. And worse, many tourists will experience a nightmare of a vacation due to the lack of vacation accommodations and not only won't be coming back but will be talking about it and discouraging others from coming here also. While it appears Ocean City may have a solo record-breaking season, the rest of the shore will suffer greatly. Having waited 10 years so far, do you think this is the best time to build $110M bridges to nowhere?
George Clark February 06, 2013 at 12:12 AM
100 million to remove three lights? nobody thinks that's just a bit much? how big are these lights? what do they need one person to hold the bulbs and 80000 union workers to turn the parkway? it's a really high price. wonder what contracting company is raking us over the coals this time? mobbed up unions?

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