WOODBRIDGE — The New Jersey Turnpike Authority on Tuesday approved spending $264,500 to acquire property that will be used to make improvements on the Garden State Parkway in Lakewood, Ocean County.
Exit 88 is currently a partial interchange. The $72 million project will reconfigure the exit to allow for full access to Route 70 from both directions. The interchange will be consolidated with exit 89 through the construction of service roads.
Before the project can move forward, the Turnpike Authority, which operates the parkway, has to acquire several properties. The authority has agreed to pay four property owners $264,500 for the involved properties with largest offer — $163,000 — going to Lakewood Cogeneration.
The company owns a 27-acre parcel, which hosts a 256-megawatt energy facility with three wind turbines. The authority is seeking about 60,000 square feet of space on the grounds for the project.
The authority has advertised for construction bids for the project and hopes to award a contract for the work by August. The work will take about two years and has an expected completion date of later 2014, officials said.
The work planned for exit 88 is part of a larger $250 million project in Ocean County focusing on shoulder widening and lane improvements from mileposts 83 to 100. All travel lanes, as well as shoulders will become 12 feet wide.
Turnpike Authority spokesman Tom Feeney has said the parkway has a history of serious accidents in that area. The speed limit there was lowered from 65 mph to 55 mph in 2008.
Ten fatal motor vehicle accidents occurred on the parkway this year. Of those, two occurred on that stretch of roadway. Most recently, a 27-year-old man was killed June 2 when he lost control of his vehicle, which overturned and struck a tree at milepost 86.2 in Toms River.
Overall, accidents on the parkway are down 4 percent this year from 3,021 to 2,901, according to data provided by the Turnpike Authority.
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