A new study commissioned by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority says there is no justification for building a full interchange between the Garden State Parkway and Route 30. That is certainly disappointing for Galloway Township residents and business owners.
Township officials had hoped that a full interchange would jump-start economic development and help businesses along Route 30, the White Horse Pike. Right now, there is no direct access to Route 30 at parkway Exit 40 for drivers heading north on the parkway and no direct access to the parkway's southern lanes for those driving west on Route 30. Drivers from the south currently access Route 30 by driving past it and turning around at the Jimmie Leeds Road rest area.
The turnpike authority is in the process of upgrading Galloway Township interchanges at exits 41 and 44 and is widening the parkway from Toms River to Egg Harbor Township, so the time seemed right to take another look at Exit 40.
But the study, written by Stantec Consulting Services of Mount Laurel, says traffic volumes and projected growth patterns don't warrant building a full interchange.
The argument for building the interchange has been that, as a gateway to Atlantic City, Route 30 would benefit from increasing traffic. The sad truth, which politicians certainly don't want to tell their constituents, is that the days of increasing traffic to Atlantic City may be over. The resort's future probably involves fewer visitors to fewer casinos.
That doesn't mean that area residents should stop making their case for a full exchange. Things can change, and the turnpike authority has shown that it is far from infallible. Its recent serious missteps in the southern part of the state include a clumsy tree-clearing fiasco and construction of a silly security fence at the bridge over the Great Egg Harbor Bay. Local officials have every right to question the study and whether the authority entered into it with an open mind.
But at least let's put to rest a proposal by 9th District lawmakers to use Casino Reinvestment Development Authority funds to build an Exit 40 exchange. As we've said before, it's critical that CRDA funds stay in Atlantic City.
And any decisions involving Exit 40 have to be based on the merits of the case, not on the availability of what some consider easy money.