New 12-Lane Turnpike Opening, Easing Bottleneck

TRENTON (AP) -
Traffic on Thursday moves along the New Jersey Turnpike as work continues on new sections of the road. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Traffic on Thursday moves along the New Jersey Turnpike as work continues on new sections of the road. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

One of New Jersey’s most notorious traffic bottlenecks may soon disappear.

A $2.3 billion project to widen the New Jersey Turnpike from six to 12 lanes along a 35-mile stretch is nearly complete. The northbound lanes are expected to open Saturday night into Sunday, while the southbound lanes will open next weekend.

The work on what officials say is the equivalent of 170 miles of new lanes to widen the turnpike began in June 2009. The project’s goal was to ease the chronic traffic bottlenecks that occur near Interchange 8A, where the car and truck lanes merge.

The average daily traffic volume in the 35-mile stretch where the work was done ranges from 145,200 vehicles at the northern end and 98,600 at the southern end. The widening added three new lanes in each direction between Interchange 6 and 8A, and one lane in each direction between 8A and 9.

Thomas Feeney, a turnpike authority spokesman, said the project came in more than $200 million below budget.

“It’s the largest capacity expansion in the 62-year history of the turnpike,” Feeney said. “At the peak of construction, it was the largest ongoing roadway project in the Western Hemisphere.”