Ocean County officials took the next step toward building an Exit 83 on the southbound Garden State Parkway.
The county is expected, next week, to approve a contract with a firm that will design the new exit. As it currently stands, Exit 83 only exists on the northbound lanes of the highway, leading many motorists to exit at interchange 82, get back on the road, and then re-exit from the northbound lanes at Exit 83.
“We came up with a study and came up with a preferred, preliminary alignment,” said Ocean County Engineer John Ernst.
Once the design is completed, it will be submitted to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which has jurisdiction over the Parkway, for approval.
“Once we get through the whole process, they have to finalize it,” said Ernst.
Preliminary plans call for a new exit ramp to be built near mile marker 83 that would exit onto Route 571 at a traffic light. Left and right turns would then be permitted from the ramp. Left turns would not be permitted from Route 9, and that traffic would be routed onto Lomell Lane.
The need for a southbound Exit 83 last been long-established, and was the subject of public meetings in 2015 that drew support from local residents.
“The lack of a southbound exit ramp between Brick Township at Interchange 88 and Toms River Township at Interchange 82 contributes to the congestion on the alternate north-south routes and the local roadway network,” a Statement of Purpose document from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority states on the project.
A previous study found that the lack of an exit creates traffic delays along New Hampshire Avenue, Route 9 and Hooper Avenue.
“The addition of a southbound exit ramp would allow the Parkway to serve as the main thoroughfare for high-speed and high- volume travel in the project area consistent with its functional hierarchy thus restoring balance between the Parkway and the parallel local and county roadways,” the document said.
While the design will be completed in due time, construction is still a long way off from getting underway.
“It will be a while,” Ernst said, referring to the studies and regulatory processes that are in the project’s future.