Groundbreaking held for Exit 83 connector road
Ocean County officials joined with representatives from Toms River Township and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority in ushering in the start of construction of the new Connector Road that will help ease traffic in the Pleasant Plains section of Toms River Township.
“This has been a long time in coming for the motorists of Toms River and Ocean County,” said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who served on the then Dover Township Committee when discussions first began about constructing the road. “When this project is complete, drivers will have a much easier time getting through the area.”
While officials donned ceremonial hard hats and took shovels to a mound of dirt marking the beginning of construction on Oct. 26, a steady stream of motorists whisked by the open parcel of land on the south side of Route 571.
“This project will help alleviate some of this traffic which of course grows heavier as we approach rush hours in the morning and evening,” said Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. “This new connector road will improve traffic flow and will make this a much safer area to travel through.
“Safety is a priority of this board,” he said.
Earlier this month, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders awarded a contract for the work to C.J. Hesse Inc., Belford, in the amount of $3,691,527. The project is expected to take about a year to complete.
The County received nine bids for the 1.3-mile project and C.J. Hesse was the low bidder at almost $3.7 million. The low bid came in more than $1 million under the estimated price of the project.
“Not only is this project going to benefit the many motorists that use the area to access residential and commercial areas but the price came in below the estimated price tag,” Vicari said. “The competitive prices among bidders have resulted in a real benefit for the citizens of Ocean County.”
The new connector road is expected to improve access to and from the Garden State Parkway northbound and help relieve some of the congestion at the intersection of Route 9 and Route 571.
“This project will bring welcome relief to motorists that use the area and are aware of the congestion problems that currently exist. The connector road will provide for a safer trip for our motorists,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little. The work will include constructing a connector road, which will be an extension of Intermediate Way between Route 166 and County Route 571 or Indian Hill Road. The exit ramp from the Garden State Parkway northbound will be expanded and improved and a signalized intersection will be provided where the ramp meets the proposed connector road. At the intersection, vehicles exiting the Parkway can then turn left to access Route 571 or right to access Route 166 southbound.
Under the plan, access also will be provided from the connector road to the Garden State Parkway northbound from the signalized intersection. The existing ramp from the Parkway northbound will be retained in the final interchange configuration. All three proposed connector road intersections – Route 166, Garden State Parkway northbound exit and entrance ramps, and Route 571 – will be controlled with traffic signals. Route 571 will be widened between the Parkway and the connector road.
Vicari noted the connector road is part of improvements to Interchange 83 on the Garden State Parkway, which will include replacing the Parkway bridge over Route 571.
“I want to thank the New Jersey Turnpike Authority for its continuing cooperation in working with Ocean County to bring needed improvements to the Garden State Parkway,” Vicari said. “As our population continues to increase, these roadways need to be improved to meet the needs of our traveling public. The Turnpike Authority in partnership with Ocean County has certainly been doing its part.”
Ocean County Freeholder James F. Lacey, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Road Department, noted that the alignment for the proposed road has been preserved by the Board of Freeholders, Toms River Township and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority in anticipation of moving the project forward.
“It was important that we all took this proactive approach in preserving land that will be used for this connector road. We plan for the future,” Lacey said. “Now we can put a shovel in the ground and get this project under way.”