Office of the Governor
McGreevey Announces Plans to Rebuild Driscoll Bridge
(Woodbridge) - Governor McGreevey today announced his administration has reached an unprecedented inter-agency agreement between the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and the New Jersey Highway Authority to fund and construct a new southbound Driscoll Bridge adjacent to the existing bridge, which will be reconstructed for northbound traffic.
"The long-awaited Driscoll Bridge will finally commence this summer," said McGreevey. "It's a great day for New Jersey drivers when cooperation and coordination prevails."
The Driscoll Bridge, spanning the Raritan River, is used by 80 million cars each year, and a quarter of those cars use the bridge to access the Turnpike. Traffic surveys indicate Interchange 11 of the NJ Turnpike is the major destination for drivers crossing the Driscoll Bridge.
"The Driscoll Bridge is critical for both the Parkway and the Turnpike, which is why an inter-agency agreement makes so much common sense," said McGreevey.
Governor McGreevey was joined by Transportation Commissioner James P. Fox, Chief of Authorities Unit Paul Josephson, and the executive directors and chairs of the Turnpike and Highway Authorities, all of whom were instrumental in reaching the agreement.
Because neither authority has the capacity to tackle this project alone, Governor McGreevey and Commissioner Fox brought together the Turnpike and the Parkway to work cooperatively to ensure the project's completion.
"This kind of cooperation is long overdue, and serves as a classic example of how the authorities can work together in a rational manner -- as Governor McGreevey has mandated," said Fox.
Since its opening in the 1950s, the Driscoll Bridge has been the major traffic connector from points south of the River to the northern reaches of New Jersey. Even with the widening of the parallel Route 9 Edison Bridge last year, Driscoll continues to carry the majority of all traffic crossing the Raritan River.
Currently, the Driscoll Bridge carries six narrow travel lanes each northbound and southbound with no shoulders. The structure is both structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. The deck of the existing northbound bridge is severely deteriorated and in need of total replacement. Pieces of concrete have been falling on the ground below and opening holes in the deck of the bridge. Additionally, many main load carrying members of the existing northbound bridge are significantly over-stressed.
"Repairing and replacing the bridge will reduce accidents while providing congestion relief for the 80 million vehicles that use the bridge every year," said McGreevey.
"From a structural perspective, expansion and rehabilitation of the bridge is critical," said Fox. "The project also will eliminate traffic congestion at the bridge."
The bridge currently has fewer lanes than approaches, and this hourglass effect is a greater cause of congestion for shore traffic than the Raritan toll plaza at the base of the bridge.
Upon completion of all phases of the project, both bridges will be reconfigured to provide eight full width travel lanes northbound, seven lanes southbound and shoulders for both directions.
The total expected cost of the rehabilitation is approximately $230 million. The proposed plan funds the engineering, mitigation, road access and construction of the new bridge, which will cost $175 million and be completed in 2005. Reconstruction of the existing bridge is estimated to cost $50 million and be completed in 2009.
The Highway Authority will provide $40 million to the project, and the Turnpike Authority will provide $135 million. $91 million will be provided entirely from the Turnpike's existing general capital reserves. The remaining $44 million will be provided in 2004 and 2005 by utilizing the NJTA's annual $22 million payment to the State Treasurer for the Transportation Trust Fund. In 2004 and 2005, these obligations to the TTF will be satisfied by the state's general fund. Consequently, the plan will not adversely affect the TTF.
The NJHA, as owner of the existing Driscoll Bridge, would convey to the NJTA a property interest in the existing bridge and the lands needed for the new bridge. As owner, the NJHA would be responsible for all matters regarding the construction of the project. The NJTA will have no responsibility other than the provision of funds for its share of the project costs.
"Both authorities should be applauded for making the Driscoll Bridge replacement a reality," said Governor McGreevey.
The agreements will be formally ratified by the Authorities at their regular meetings at the end of the month.