Driscoll Bridge project advances
with today's action by Turnpike board
McGreevey and Fox say drivers are the real winners
The project to rehabilitate the Garden State Parkway’s Driscoll Bridge and build a new span next to it has advanced one step closer toward construction with the decision today by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority Board of Directors to approve an unprecedented inter-agency funding agreement.
“The Turnpike board’s action today represents a great victory for approximately 220,000 motorists who use this aging bridge every day. Citizens want government to work effectively and more efficiently,” said Gov. James E. McGreevey. “This agreement will make this long-awaited project a reality.”
Last week, the board of directors of the Highway Authority, which operates the 173-mile long Parkway, also approved the inter-agency funding agreement. Transportation Commissioner James P. Fox said construction will begin this summer.
“Neither authority has the capacity to tackle this critical project alone, but we found a way to work in a coordinated fashion to ensure that this work is accomplished,” Commissioner Fox added. “Through this unprecedented inter-agency agreement we are providing the resources to get this work done.”
The Driscoll Bridge, spanning the Raritan River in Middlesex County, is used by nearly 80 million vehicles each year, with a quarter of those vehicles ultimately accessing the New Jersey Turnpike. Traffic surveys indicate Interchange 11 of the Turnpike is one of the major destinations for motorists using the Driscoll Bridge.
Currently, the Driscoll Bridge carries six narrow travel lanes northbound and southbound with no shoulders. The bridge, which opened to traffic in the 1950s carries the majority of all traffic across the Raritan River, is structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.
The bridge currently has fewer travel lanes than approach lanes, which is a prime cause of traffic congestion. When completed, a new span and rehabilitated span will carry eight full width travel lanes northbound, seven lanes southbound and shoulders in both directions.
The estimated cost of the project is $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 at $50 million and will be completed in 2009.
The Highway Authority will provide $40 million to the project. The Turnpike Authority will provide $135 million, $91 million of which will be provided from the Turnpike’s existing capital reserves. The remaining $44 million will be provided in 2004 and 2005 by utilizing the Turnpike’s annual $22 million payment to the Transportation Trust Fund. In 2004 and 2005, these obligations will satisfied by the state’s General Fund and will not adversely affect the Transportation Trust Fund.