Department of Transportation

Overview


The New Jersey Department of Transportation's (NJDOT) I-295/I-76/Route 42 Interchange project in Bellmawr, Mt. Ephraim and Gloucester City in Camden County is designed to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion at the intersection of I-295, I-76, and Route 42. Prior to the project, the interchange was one of the most congested roadways in New Jersey and it had a high rate of crashes. It currently does not provide a direct connection for I-295 through traffic. The existing interchange requires motorists to reduce speed in both directions of I-295 to safely negotiate ramps with 35 mph speed limits.

The project will construct a new bridge, which is the I-295 mainline direct connection over I-76/Route 42, as well as improve several ramps and reconstruct number of bridges over I-295 and Route 42. The major benefit of the project is to allow I-295 traffic to flow continuously without the need for using the current ramps with 35 mph speed limit. This will reduce congestion and improve safety by eliminating several weaving motions. Because of the size and complexity of the project, the project was divided into four construction contracts. Construction began in the winter 2013 and is expected to be complete in 2027.

Work is complete to install Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). This system includes Dynamic Message Signs to alert motorists of roadway incidents or congestion, travel-time readers and adaptive traffic signal control systems along portions of Routes 168 and 130. Collectively, these technology-based systems will give NJDOT a wider range of capabilities to manage traffic in Camden and Gloucester counties during project construction and beyond.

Contract 1, awarded to PKF Mark III, began in March 2013 was completed in November 2016. Work was carried out along I-295 south of Essex Avenue, along I-76 in the Market Street area and along two Route 42 ramps. The Bell Road Bridge over I-295 and the Creek Road Bridge over Route 42 were replaced and four retaining walls were started that would be completed in subsequent contracts. In addition, several stretches of roadways were temporarily widened to accommodate work under future contracts and a temporary ramp was constructed to eliminate the weave between Route 42 north and I-295 north traffic for the duration of construction. A new ramp from I-295 north over Route 42 also was built. These ramps have improved safety and allow for an easier flow of traffic, which has helped minimize congestion during the construction.

Contract 2, awarded to Conti Enterprises, began in June 2014 and was completed in July 2019. The most notable piece of this contract was building a new ramp from I-76 eastbound to I-295 northbound and the construction of a five-lane covered roadway where the two lanes of traffic coming from new I-76 eastbound ramp merge with three lanes of traffic from I-295 northbound. The covered roadway opened in February of 2019 and the existing traffic pattern will stay in this configuration until the project is completed. A portion of the new I-295 bridge that will go over the ramp from I-76 east to I-295 north was completed as part of this contract in July of 2019. The rest of the bridge will be built as part of Contract 3.

Contract 3, awarded to South State, Inc., began in April 2017 and is expected to finish in late 2024. The main focus of this contract is completing the new bridge, which is the I-295 mainline direct connection over I-76/Route 42. When work under this contract is completed, I-295 southbound traffic will start using the new bridge, but I-295 northbound traffic will not be using the new bridge until new ramps are built under the fourth and final contract. The Browning Road Bridge over Route 42 also will be reconstructed as part of Contract 3.

Contract 4 is expected to go to bid 2022 and begin construction shortly after. It will include the completion of work along I-76/Route 42, I-295 northbound, the ramp from I-295 south to I-76 west and the remainder of the ramp from I-295 south to I-76 east/Route 42 south.

Background
Aljo's Curve photo The purpose of this project is to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion at the intersection of
I-295, I-76 and Route 42. It will address quality-of-life issues relating to motorists, residents
and the environment.

At present the I-295, I-76 and Route 42 interchange does not provide a direct connection for I-295 through traffic. The existing interchange requires motorists to reduce speed in both directions of
I-295 to safely negotiate ramps with 35 mph speed limits.

In addition, drivers must also compete with vehicles entering from Route 42 and I-76, causing dangerous conditions. Being a major artery for Philadelphia commuter traffic via the Walt Whitman Bridge, and a connection to the southern New Jersey shore, Route 42 and the Atlantic City Expressway, this interchange is the busiest in the region.

Due to the high volumes of traffic, low main line design speed, complex configuration of the interchange and weaving movements, a high incidence of motor vehicle accidents often occur.

Background Studies
Between 1985 and 1987, an investigation was performed with the possibility of creating a direct connection with a design speed of 70 mph.

A straightened alignment was preferred from a traffic standpoint for optimal design speed, but it required the acquisition of a substantial amount of residential properties in the community of Bellmawr. Because of this, NJDOT decided to cease any further detailed data collection and/or analysis of this concept, which had come to be known as the "Unrestricted Alternative".

NJDOT's Bureau of Project Scope Development was then asked to evaluate and develop new conceptual solutions for improving the interchange. Twelve concepts emerged to be workable from strictly a constructability standpoint. These concepts illustrated how design speed would be increased up to 60 mph. Even without the benefit of detailed environmental studies and public or outside agency input, it was evident that each concept would have some impact to at least one known environmentally sensitive resource.

A key objective of the scoping/feasibility phase of NJDOT's effort was to improve the I-295/I-76/Route 42 interchange and to evaluate all of the potential impacts of these concepts. Coordination and communication with the surrounding communities and regulatory agencies was paramount in the consensus building required to make the necessary decisions on this regionally significant project.

Prior to the development of the alternative concepts for the
I-295/I-76/Route 42 interchange, the Route 42 widening project provided an additional fourth lane of travel for vehicles on Route 42 into and out of the interchange to the south. The new lane also eliminated the southbound weaving between I-76 to I-295 and the I-295 to Route 42 movements.

To meet federal transportation regulations, NJDOT in conjunction with Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), agreed to a Transportation Investment Study (TIS). This study provided comprehensive multi-modal alternatives to address identifier transportation deficiencies within this area. Included in the TIS was a Congestion Management Study (CMS) that identified travel demand reduction strategies and operational improvements that complement a potential investment. The initial results of this study confirmed a continued need for the direct connection of I-295 movements through the interchange.

Efforts associated with the development of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) included:

  • Project partnering
  • Screening
  • Topographic Survey
  • Community involvement
  • Traffic Count Program
  • Development of Alternatives
  • Environmental Baseline Evaluations and Analysis
  • Technical Environmental Studies
  • Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement and a selection of an Initially Preferred Alternative

Subsequent to the completion of the EIS a Record of Decision was issued.



Last updated date: November 12, 2020 2:16 PM