By JOHN T. WARD
A proposed reconfiguration of Garden State Parkway exit 109 in Lincroft drew dozens of nearby residents and commuters to the Middletown Township Public Library Thursday afternoon.
According to project manager Maynard Abuan, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority plans to spend $60 million on the two-year interchange rebuild, which calls for:
• The creation of a new “flyover” ramp from eastbound Newman Springs Road directly onto the northbound parkway to replace the dreaded Half Mile Road jughandle
• Replacing the four “functionally obsolete” freeway bridges over Newman Springs Road
• Widening Newman Springs Road as it passes under the freeway to add shoulders and improve driver sightlines while keeping it to two lanes in each direction
• Installing traffic lights where Newman Springs Road intersects with both Schultz Road East and Schultz Road West
• Installing a left-turn lane in eastbound Newman Springs Road at Half Mile Road, replacing the jughandle movement.
Attendees at the session studied giant aerial photos with superimposed schematics while quizzing NJTA employees. A woman was overheard heard asking about trees and commenting on the “explosive” growth in the area.
That growth, said Abuan, was one of the driving forces behind the agency’s plan to replace the jughandle access to the northbound parkway.
When the toll road was built in the mid-1950s, “the volumes didn’t warrant” the expense of the ramp that’s now proposed, Abuan told redbankgreen.
The plan, part of a $7 billion capital program for the toll road, was also necessitated by problems resulting from traffic exiting from the northbound parkway, said Abuan. Because of congestion resulting from heavy volume and “weaving conflicts” at the Newman Springs Road intersection with Half Mile Road, the line of exiting vehicles sometimes extends back into the travel lanes of the freeway, he said.
New traffic lights were what concerned C.J. Lagan – particularly their impact on his ability to turn left onto Newman Springs Road from Parkway Place, where he lives. An NJTA official told him that the roadway changes would stop just short of that intersection and wouldn’t affect his commute.
Overall, Lagan said, he’s in favor of the plan. “The whole area is a mess, so they need to do something,” he said.
The plan is still conceptual and subject to change, which is why the authority was soliciting public input Thursday, Abuan said.
He said he anticipates construction on the two-year project to begin in 2017.