The Garden State Parkway southbound was busy Friday morning with cars carrying luggage, surfboards and beach toys to the shore for Fourth of July weekend.
Overall, about 43 million Americans will be traveling this weekend, according to AAA.
Motorists who took the Atlantic City Expressway east for Memorial Day weekend are returning now to discover that the overpass leading to the parkway is now open.
“It has solved a lot of issues for us,” New Jersey Turnpike Authority spokesman John O’Hern said. “That’s safety. We’re confident it’s going to eliminate a lot of accidents in that area.”
Before the overpass was open, cars merging onto the parkway southbound shared a lane and competed with vehicles exiting onto Washington Avenue in Egg Harbor Township. The new overpass will take care of that weave, officials said.
“You would not design it that way these days,” O’Hern said.
But although the new overpass has helped the flow of traffic off the expressway, drivers are still facing some headaches on the parkway.
The ongoing $84.1 million project to improve traffic flow near exits 36, 37 and 38 in Egg Harbor Township will not be completed before the end of summer.
The projects will not be delayed by Gov. Chris Christie’s executive order to shut down all construction projects paid for by the state’s transportation trust fund because the Turnpike Authority has its own fund, O’Hern said.
The $131 million Great Bay Harbor Bridge reconstruction project near the B.L. England Generating Station in Upper Township could lead to more problems down the parkway for tourists. O’Hern said the southbound side of the bridge will be completed in November.
After that, the next phase of the project, on the northbound side, will begin. O’Hern said the Turnpike Authority will award a contract in the next couple of months for the two-year project.
The traffic does not concern Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian, who said the projects have not had any effect on crowds coming to the shore.
“Ocean City fully supports these road improvements and is committed to being a leader in taking care of its own infrastructure,” Gillian said. “Though it may take our guests a few minutes longer to get to their favorite place, the projects have not had any measurable effect on tourism, and they’re vitally important in the long run.”
O’Hern said construction workers will be off the weekend for the holiday.