New Jersey Turnpike Authority engineers today unveiled a four-year, $350 million construction program along the entire length of the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike at an event hosted by the New Jersey Alliance for Action.
According to John Keller, supervising engineer at the agency, the project — which will be funded by the state’s toll increases since 2009 — includes immediate Turnpike toll plaza repairs, construction of 30 maintenance buildings and four state police barracks and rehabilitation of 60 existing facilities, with several dating back to 1950.
The ongoing Turnpike widening project was originally estimated at $1.6 billion in 2009, but with the state’s worsening construction industry, the NJTA said it’s saved $450 million through cheaper contracting bids for the project, and the new facilities project could save even more as construction slows further, Keller said.
According to Turnpike Authority highway engineer Brian O’Leary, no repairs will be made on the Parkway toll plazas under the facilities program, as they are to be converted into all-electronic toll collection within a few years, while the Turnpike may not be able to offer such tolling until 2022. O’Leary said several Turnpike toll barrier plazas do not meet electric codes and use 60-year-old heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, so $25 million to $30 million of total project funding is designated for those improvements.
“We’re spending about $1.5 million a day on the Turnpike widening project, but we have less than 30 engineers, so we’ll need to be more efficient than ever,” Keller said. “Every day, engineers do the same thing, but for this project, they’ll need to do it a little more efficiently. We’re not doing anything pretty here. These buildings will be ugly, but functional and cost effective.”
Keller estimated a full team of four design consultants, engineers and a project manager will be organized by October, and contracts will be sought in the fall.