Codey discusses South Jersey transportation needs
Acting Governor Codey and DOT Commissioner Lettiere launch a pilot program for a new way to speed the timelines of high-priority traffic relief projects.
They will begin with the congested I-295/I-76/Route 42 interchange
(TRENTON) – Acting Governor Richard J. Codey announced today that he has directed the Department of Transportation to speed up the timeline of a vital I-295 project in Gloucester City and Bellmawr Borough in Camden County, and will place a priority on other needed improvements on southern New Jersey roads.
Shortly after becoming Acting Governor, Codey met with DOT Commissioner Jack Lettiere and area legislators to discuss southern New Jersey’s most pressing congestion- and safety-related projects – and direct Commissioner Lettiere to come up with ways to get those projects begun and completed more quickly and efficiently.
The result, announced today, is a pilot project in a new way to expedite high-priority traffic relief projects – a way to shave years off of the long timelines for much-needed road projects.
South Jersey will be the first part of the State to benefit – because the pilot project will be the much-needed fix to the I-295/I-76/Route 42 interchange. That is one of the busiest interchanges in New Jersey.
"As someone from Essex County, where traffic delays are common, I understand the problems congestion causes. I want to make South Jerseyans aware of this: I understand the transportation needs in your area. The investments needed to keep South Jersey growing will receive priority in my Administration," Acting
Governor Codey said in a press conference this morning, at the NJDOT’s South Jersey Operations Center in Cherry Hill.
Under an existing timeline, construction on the I-295/I-76/Route 42 interchange was not scheduled to begin until 2012. The new goal, with the pilot project, is to finish by 2012. Upon Acting Governor Codey’s direction, the DOT will uniquely bring together a number of ways to expedite the project.
The I-295/I-76/Route 42 interchange is one of the top 3 congested areas in New Jersey. More than 250,000 people travel there daily, but the area where I-295 and Route 42 meet is confusing for motorists and difficult to navigate. There are four to seven times more accidents at the I-295/I-76/Route 42 interchange than at other interchanges throughout the State.
Currently, vehicles traveling on I-295 must exit the interstate via slow-moving ramps to merge with traffic on I-76/Route 42 before they continue their journey on I-295. The DOT is developing a project, currently estimated at $300 million in construction costs, to fix this problem by ensuring that vehicles on I-295 stay on the interstate.
Under the pilot program:
- The DOT will use the directions in the Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer workshop, which recommends innovative construction techniques that can compress construction schedules, and calls for innovative ways to enhance safety and reduce overall cost. This is the first workshop of its kind in New Jersey.
- The DOT also plans a permit streamlining process, endorsed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, to work with all regulatory agencies from day one. This would resolve environmental concerns earlier in the process, and eliminate delays. This is the first time the process will be incorporated into a NJDOT project. It has the potential to accelerate the environmental review process by a matter of years.
- The DOT will also work with regulatory agencies to merge permit approval hearings and combine permit applications. This would avoid duplication and save valuable time. The process has been approved by the appropriate regulatory agencies.
"Fixing South Jersey’s transportation problems is of paramount importance to the region’s economy and quality of life. I look forward to fulfilling Governor Codey’s charge to fix these problems and keep South Jersey’s transportation system viable," Commissioner Lettiere said.
At today’s press conference, Acting Governor Codey and Commissioner Lettiere discussed other priority transportation projects in southern New Jersey. They include:
- The need to add new ramps to fully connect Route 42 with I-295. This would be a great benefit to the region, as it would let motorists get directly from Route 42 to I-295 without using other highways. This project should begin in a little over a year.
- Major repairs to an 8.5-mile stretch of I-295 in Cherry Hill and Mount Laurel, a $68 million project to repave and rebuild a major highway used by 100,000 commuters each day. The DOT recently completed this project. This major interstate pavement rehabilitation is a good example of DOT’s "Fix it First" initiative to repair existing roads and bridges first.
- A major problem area on Route 42 at College Avenue in Gloucester Township in Camden County. Acting Governor Codey learned about the Route 42 / College Avenue problem from South Jersey legislators, and has asked Commissioner Lettiere to find out what can be done. Improvements are needed to provide students with direct assess to Camden County College.