NJ pols see public support for Turnpike/Parkway widening
By Peter Samuel
A lot of the campaigning for the next governor in New Jersey is about who will get the most windmills erected and taxes contained and jobs saved, but incumbent Gov Jon Corzine is making a major pitch for enhancing tollroad capacity, showing up at two big groundbreakings in recent days, playing for the cameras.
July 2 Corzine and leading officials were at Hightstown for ceremonies to celebrate a start on widening the NJ Turnpike Exits 6 to 9.
And July 6 they were at Forked River on the Jersey shore for groundbreaking ceremonies on widening the Garden State Parkway IC30 to IC50. This is around $3.5 to $4 billion worth of toll financed works.
"One of the most important things I will be part of as Gov"
Corzine said that the New Jersey Turnpike widening project is "one of the most important things I will ever be a part of as governor.” He said the the Turnpike is one of the "major economic drivers of the state" and an "Main Street" for the eastern seaboard.
Making investments in it would provide major payoffs in the future.
Alluding to environmentalist criticism of the widening as unnecessary, he said that there were 46 days last year when the Turnpike was backed up for 5km (3 miles) or longer in the section being widened.
Corzine also cited as a virtue that the Turnpike widening will require no taxpayer money, and no federal stimulus funds, but will be financed entirely by users' toll payments. Local mayors also spoke in support.
Windsor mayors, east and west favor
East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov said the township "strongly" supports the widening because it will help lessen the traffic on the local roads: ”We certainly welcome all drivers on our roads, but if they are just passing through, we prefer that they do it on the Turnpike.”
West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh said the project will benefit the township and its people by making for more efficient movement.
South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese also spoke in support.
Turnpike project goes to 3/3/3/3 lane format
The Turnpike project involves extending the 12 lane format with 4x3 lane roadways (3/3/3/3) for about 56km (35 miles) south of Exit 9 from MP83 in East Brunswick to MP48 in Mansfield Township just south of Exit 6.
Going south the first stretch of 16km (10 miles) from north of Exit 9 to just south of Exit 8A is already four roadways but 2/3/3/2. It will have the single lane added to bring it up to 3/3/3/3 standard.
From near Exit 8A going south the Turnpike narrows to a conventional 6 lane expressway with 2x3 lane roadways, so capacity will be doubled for 40km (25 miles) all the way through Exit 6 and the spur west to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Major right of way acquisitions were needed in strips alongside.
The Turnpike's 3/3/3/3 format segregates heavy truck traffic and buses in the outer roadways, leaving the two inner roadways cars-only.
Under current rules cars can drive the outer roadways with trucks and buses if they wish.
There are no slip ramps between inner and outer roadways, so this is one of the few "dual/dual" expressways with full segregation.
Double ramped ICs
At interchanges each roadway has its own entry and exit ramps. Even the right turning ramps of inner roadways flyover the top of the through traffic on outer roadways.
Four interchanges will be heavily rebuilt as part of the widening project to add the extra set of grade separated ramps.
274 lane-km more
The Turnpike widening project provides an extra 274 lane-km (170 lane-miles) at a cost of $2,500m - $9.1m/lane-km, $14.7m/lane-mile.
The work is due for completion in 2014.
This stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike has the interstate designation I-95, being part of the spinal eastcoast route between Maine and Florida. Planning is based on an expected growth in traffic 2005 to 2032 of some two-thirds.
The Garden State Parkway is being widened from Interchange 30 in Somers Point to about IC80 Toms River, a distance of 82km (51 miles). The work is simpler 3rd laning and adding a full sized breakdown shoulder for safety.
Gov Corzine was almost killed two years back in a crash on an old stretch of substandard 2x2 lanes top the south when a car ahead had trouble on a shoulder. The Governor's own car hit a primitive guardrail in the median end-on, after the police driver lost control.
78 bridges have to be widened or rebuilt as part of the GSP project. Widening is inwards to the grassed median in sections, and outwards elsewhere.
Cost is estimated at about $900m for an extra 164 lane-km (102 lane-miles) or $5.5m/lane-km ($8.8m/lane-mile).
Newark Star-Ledger columnist slams antis as knuckleheads, bozos
Newark Star-Ledger columnist used the occasion of the start on widening the Turnpike and the Parkway to hit Sierra Club critics in a column headlined "Why the Sierra Club has no credibility":
"A few weekends ago my wife and I took a trip down the Parkway to visit my in-laws in Sea Isle City. Since it was a Friday, we got stuck in traffic in that two-lane section of the roadway that stretches from Toms River to Cape May.
"I pay lots of money to drive on the Parkway and I deserve a functioning roadway in return. That section should have been widened years ago, as should the Turnpike. Yet the knuckleheads in the Sierra Club insist that both roads are just fine as is.
"Well, they're fine if you want to get out of the car and hug a tree. But it's idiotic to have to sit in traffic in the name of environmentalism. Yet these bozos keep on cranking out press releases arguing in favor of traffic jams. (He printed one below.)
"Note the idiot 'alternatives' - expansion of a few train lines. Much of the traffic on the Turnpike is out-of-state people in cars who are stuck on the road because the tree-huggers years ago managed to kill a badly needed expansion of I-95 that would have created an alternative route west of the Turnpike.
"As for the Parkway, there simply is no alternative. No trains run south along the Shore and none ever will. Even in the old days, the tracks stopped in Seaside Park. There are no rail lines that could conceivably absorb the summer traffic.
"So when you're stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, burning gas and going nowhere, ponder the fact that this is what the Sierra Club wants you doing." END quotes from Paul Mulshine
see the Turnpike's nicely designed website on the Turnpike 6 to 9 widening project