The state Senate Thursday approved a measure to require the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to hold at least two monthly meetings per year in Ocean, Atlantic or Cape May counties.

The bill, sponsored by Senators Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, and Christopher Connors, R-Ocean, Burlington, Atlantic, was designed to allow residents in South Jersey to have more access and input on turnpike authority decisions.

Van Drew cited several high profile decisions on the Garden State Parkway in Atlantic and Cape May counties as behind the reasoning for the bill, including the mass cutting of trees along a more than 20-mile stretch of the parkway and a multi-million dollar installation of security fencing near the Great Egg Harbor Bay bridge.

“These events demonstrated the real need for South Jersey to have a stronger voice in Turnpike Authority decisions, particularly when they deal with the Garden State Parkway,” Van Drew said in a news release.

“Holding a couple meetings each year in the region will allow for local concerns to be aired before final decisions are made on infrastructure projects and other matters that affect South Jersey. This will ensure that our toll dollars are spent wisely and in the best interest of our residents.”

Turnpike Authority meetings currently are held monthly at the Woodbridge headquarters.

Van Drew and Connors also have sponsored legislation requiring that at least one authority board member be from Ocean, Atlantic or Cape May counties.