EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — When the New Jersey Turnpike Authority wraps up Garden State Parkway construction in summer 2017, the newly widened road in the township will look a lot different.
Drivers on the eastbound Atlantic City Expressway turning onto the southbound parkway will have the new option of either taking a two-lane onramp onto the parkway or a single lane to get off at Exit 37 at Washington Avenue, according to the authority’s plans.
The double-lane parkway merge will go over a new bridge that is designed to keep these cars away from southbound drivers exiting at Washington Avenue, eliminating a sometimes-frantic merge.
Authority officials showed off plans for the three-year, $80 million-to-$90 million project during a hearing Wednesday night at the Egg Harbor Township Community Center.
The hearing was needed because of the authority’s plans to cut down 9.4 acres of trees as part of the widening and realignment.
Continuing south on the parkway, drivers on the two new lanes will merge onto the wider southbound roadway, continuing across new bridges over Washington Avenue, the Black Horse Pike and Tilton Road.
There, cars leaving the roadway at Exit 36 will have enough space to slow down and enter the off-ramp, before benefiting from a new nonstop access lane onto a wider Tilton Road under a new bridge.
The road will drop back to two lanes a short distance south of Exit 36.
Northbound drivers will also have an additional lane but should see few other changes.
A possible off-ramp to the Harbor Square mall was not on the plans but is a viable proposal, said John T. Withers, an authority supervising engineer. The authority has approved similar ramps elsewhere in the system, including in Manahawkin.
“The ramp can go there,” he said. “It shouldn’t be a problem.”
Work crews plan to keep at least two parkway lanes open throughout the construction period during main travel hours, although officials said the bridge replacements mean there may be delays and detours some nights and on some local roads.
The meeting drew a handful of curious spectators, including Denise Giannetta. The 61-year-old resident of nearby Broadway Avenue asked about a township proposal to connect the road with a new Boulevard Avenue. The proposed road would incorporate a direct parkway connection to Harbor Square.
She wanted to know why the proposal existed, when the mall property recently built a new and otherwise serviceable access road through the property. That was not part of the plans, highway officials said.
Township officials also looked over the plans before going to their Wednesday night meeting.
“If this goes, it should be a big boon to the area,” Committeewoman Laura Pfrommer said.
Egg Harbor City resident Scott MacPherson, 24, and Ocean City resident Ale Mere, 23, looked over the plans.
“It looks like a positive improvement,” MacPherson said.
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