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Good news Turnpike’s massive expansion is on time, on budget Spotlight on Transportation

The completed expansion of the New Jersey Turnpike, expected by the end of November, will be a welcome sight for the road's millions of drivers.-(AARON HOUSTON)

Six-lane, $2.3 billion project has been in the works since 2009.

His most direct route to customers was beset by a hefty project — a widening of a 35-mile stretch of the Turnpike — for more than four years, and in that time his drivers have occasionally had to deviate from it and travel much slower roads.

Here’s the good news for the Edison-based shipping company and the industry as a whole: a new and improved Turnpike is just around the corner. By Thanksgiving, the $2.3 billion redesign — which began construction in 2009 — will be complete.

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The project is intended to alleviate a chronically congested portion of the 120-mile toll road, from the vicinity of Interchange 6 in Mansfield, to just south of Interchange 9 in East Brunswick.

Thomas Feeney, a New Jersey Turnpike Authority spokesman, said that in the summer of 2008 — before construction started — there were delays of at least three miles on 46 of 92 days along this part of the Turnpike.

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He added that this bottleneck — the worst on the Turnpike — would be exacerbated over the coming decades, as the area was expected to grow in population and employment by up to 25 percent.

As a response, the Turnpike Authority designed the addition of three outer lanes in each direction between exits 6 and 8A and one outer lane in each direction between exits 8A and 9. All combined, it’s a total 170 miles of new lanes.

“It’s a hugely complex project,” Feeney said. “But we didn’t encounter any surprises out of the ordinary with a project of this magnitude. It has proceeded on budget and on schedule through some bad winters.”

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This is not the first time traffic demands necessitated a Turnpike widening. The roadway, which opened in 1952 with just four lanes, underwent an 83-mile-long widening in 1955.

That project added six lanes, three in each direction, from Exit 4 in Mount Laurel Township to Exit 10 in Edison. It also created an eight-lane configuration in the Newark region.

The Turnpike would be widened along its various corridors nearly once each decade after that. But none of the previous widening plans came close to matching the scope of the current project.

Brett Johnson

NJBIZ Business Events