By Jay Cook |
MIDDLETOWN – A new plan to smooth out the knotty traffic problems at Garden State Parkway Exit 109 will be unveiled to the public on Wednesday.
That is when the New Jersey Turnpike Authority will hold a public meeting and hearing at the Middletown Public Library to describe the latest revisions to the original $60 million construction and design plans first introduced three years ago.
In an interview with The Two River Times in December, Turnpike Authority spokesman Tom Feeney said blueprints have changed and the project’s scope has shrunk in size since the plans were last publicly presented in mid-2015, due to changes in the state budget.
While a price tag is not yet known for the new plan, the main goal remains the same, Feeney said in the interview. “The 109 project is about providing better access to and from the parkway there, and to Newman Springs Road – to reduce some of the congestion,” he said.
The original plans had also called for replacing four functionally obsolete bridges around Exit 109, with work slated to begin in 2017 and finish by 2019. But that has since changed.
According to a public notice for the meeting, the main goal is to improve safety and operations by reducing vehicular traffic queues that extend onto the Garden State Parkway’s northbound outer roadway. Also, the NJTA aims to improve the flow of traffic to and from the Garden State Parkway by eliminating the merging and weaving condition between jughandle traffic from Newman Springs Road and the Garden State Parkway northbound exiting traffic.
For the members of the Lincroft Village Green Association, plans for any safety upgrades are welcome.
“We hope to talk to them and see how it’s going to affect our village,” said Lori Littenberg, an LVGA co-director. “We’ve been anticipating this meeting to see what they have planned, but our No. 1 issues are pedestrian safety and traffic calming through town.”
Littenberg said the LVGA board discussed the Exit 109 plans at their meeting earlier this month after the Turnpike Authority sent a letter detailing the plans.
“It looks like a lot of thought went into all of the changes they’re marking and it looks like it will have a positive impact on the community,” she said. “While those changes are being made we have to also see how traffic is going to be diverted.”
Construction is expected to begin in the spring or early summer, Feeney said.
In December, the Turnpike Authority knocked down a ticket office in the commuter lot to free up 30 new parking spaces, expanding the parking capacity to over 250 spaces in the main lot.
The improvements to Exit 109 in the new plan will include:
- Construct a new Garden State Parkway entrance loop and bridge over Newman Springs Road, east of the existing Garden State Parkway bridges. The new bridge will be fed solely by a newly separate lane on Newman Springs Road eastbound from the Garden State Parkway northbound ramp. The ramp, which is used to access Half Mile Road and sometimes circumvent the Newman Springs Road traffic light, will be eliminated.
- Create a signalized intersection at Newman Springs Road and Schulz Drive West, which will include relocating the Garden State Parkway northbound exit left turn to Newman Springs Road westbound at the new intersection.
- Reconfigure the Newman Springs Road and Half Mile Road intersection to accommodate for the Newman Springs Road eastbound left turn lane to Half Mile Road.
- Convert Half Mile Road’s southbound left lane at Newman Springs Road from a shared right/left lane to a left turn-only lane.
- Conduct minor widening of Schulz Drive West between Newman Springs Road and Garden State Parkway northbound entrance ramp from Schulz Drive West to provide a new southbound right turn lane onto Newman Springs Road westbound.
The public hearing will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24 at the Middletown Township Public Library, 55 New Monmouth Road. Representatives from the Turnpike Authority will be on hand to discuss the project informally from 4 to 6:30 p.m., and the official public hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. That will include a brief presentation and an opportunity for the public to provide verbal or written comments.
Public comments will also be accepted by the Turnpike Authority until Thursday, Feb. 8, which is when the comment period closes. Written comments may be addressed to Maynard Abuan, P.E., Senior Project Engineer/Hearing Officer, New Jersey Turnpike Authority, P.O. Box 5042, Woodbridge, NJ 07095-5042.
This article was first published in the Jan. 18-25, 2018 print edition of the Two River Times.
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