Two contracts related to the final phase of the Atlantic City Expressway widening were awarded Tuesday, putting the project on track to break ground in January.
South State Inc., of Bridgeton, will complete the widening from milepost 25 to 31, extending from just beyond the Farley Plaza rest stop in Egg Harbor Township to the exit for Route 73 in Winslow Township, Camden County. The firm was the lowest of six bidders with a $15.4 million estimate for the work.
Joseph Jingoli and Son Inc., of Lawrenceville, Mercer County, was awarded a $1.4 million contract for construction management and inspection services related to the project, which will add a third westbound lane that’s expected to ease congestion, particularly the backups that occur in the summer as visitors to New Jersey’s shore towns head home.
The widening is set to begin a year earlier than expected. In September, the South Jersey Transportation Authority opted to redirect more than $18 million in its capital budget with the bulk of the financing going toward the widening.
Most of that money was expected to fund the transition to all-electronic tolls on the expressway, so drivers would pay tolls through E-ZPass or would be sent bills in the mail. Officials have said a more comprehensive plan for dealing with toll offenders in an all-electronic system would have to be developed before that project could move forward.
SJTA acting Executive Director Sam Donelson said the widening work is expected to take 18 months to complete and should be under way by January.
Construction on the first phase of the project from milepost 7.7 to 17.5 at the Egg Harbor toll plaza began in 2009. The second phase extended the widening to milepost 25. Construction there finished in July.
Plans for the near future extended the westbound widening only to milepost 31. From there to the start of the expressway in Washington Township, Gloucester County, the road is two lanes. Widening the rest of the expressway is mentioned in the outer years of the authority’s 10-year capital program, but there are no immediate plans to take on that project.
When the widening was initially studied in the mid-2000s, analysis showed that the 31 miles of the road from Atlantic City to Winslow Township were the most heavily traveled and, therefore, the most pressing need for expansion, Donelson said.
“That’s something that is demand driven. If we see that traffic is increasing faster than forecast, then it’s possible it could be widened sooner,” Donelson said, noting the authority’s revenue forecasts are strong.
The authority took in $5.2 million in tolls in October. That’s a 12.5 percent decrease compared with October 2011, but toll revenue is still up 2 percent over the first 10 months of 2011. The monthly decrease was related to the expressway shutdown during Hurricane Sandy.
The highway was flooded for the first time in its history during the storm. The most significant flooding was at the Pleasantville toll plaza, where the road was submerged in 2 feet of water.
Contact Jennifer Bogdan:
Follow Jennifer Bogdan on Twitter @ACPressJennifer