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Tue November 04, 2014 - Northeast Edition
A five-year, $2.3 billion project to widen the New Jersey Turnpike is winding down on schedule and more than $200 million under budget.
The project is fully funded by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. The official groundbreaking was held in July 2009, and completion is set for November 2014.
According to Thomas O’Connor, project manager of the construction management consultant AECO/GPI/PB joint venture, one of the final states of work was opened the weekend of Oct. 25, when the inner roadway rehabilitation on the northbound travel lanes was completed.
“This weekend [Nov. 1 and 2], we will complete the inner roadway rehabilitation on the southbound travel lanes,” he said. “Once that is completed, the remaining work is to remove the temporary merge and diverge pavement north of interchange 8A and restore the median. All this work is scheduled to be completed prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.”
At the widening program ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 24, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie noted that, “New Jersey’s transportation network has always been one of our greatest competitive advantages. The opening of the Turnpike more than six decades ago addressed a pent-up need for additional highway capacity in our state and helped fuel the longest period of economic growth in New Jersey’s history. With the new lanes from [Interchanges] 6 to 9, we are providing capacity New Jersey needs to prosper in the 21st century.”
The widening corridor is 35 mi. (56.3 km) long. It extends from just south of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Extension near Interchange 6 (milepost 48) to Interchange 9 (milepost 83).
The project Web site reports that, at the peak of construction, the widening program was the largest ongoing roadway project in the Western Hemisphere. During this time period, 1,000 workers were employed on the project every day.
The program added 170 lane mi. (273.5 km) of roadway. Three new lanes were added in each direction to the outer roadway from near Interchange 6 to Interchange 8A, and one new lane was added in each direction to the outer roadway between Interchanges 8A and 9. The Inner Roadway from near Interchange 6 to Interchange 8A was resurfaced, and repairs were made to existing bridge decks and median barriers.
In addition, a new toll plaza was built at Interchange 8, and the toll plaza at Interchange 7A was widened by three lanes. A total of 102 bridges and culverts were modified or constructed, four mi. (6.4 km) of noise barriers were built, 140 new sign structures were erected, 123 mi. (198 km) of guardrail were installed, 140,000 cu. yds. (107,038 km) of concrete and 2.4 million tons (2.1 million t) of asphalt were laid, and 17 mi. (27.3 km) of petroleum pipeline was relocated.
There was no prime contractor for the job. Instead, there were 17 contractors and 328 subcontractors. Five construction management firms and 21 utility companies were involved in construction.
O’Connor noted that the first major challenge faced on the job involved the initial relocation of more than 17 mi. (27.3 km) of major gas pipeline (Colonial Sunoco and Tranco) to accommodate the widening.
“Another was the coordination of 31 separate contracts with competing interests for temporary lane closures to accommodate the demolition of existing bridge structures over the Turnpike and the subsequent construction of new bridge structures,” he said. “An additional challenge was the coordination with local utility companies to relocate their facilities including major fiber optic lines and electric and gas lines.”
O’Connor reported that typical equipment used on the widening program included a BG 40 (BS 100) rotary drilling rig for foundations exceeding 150 ft. (45.7 m) deep, which was used for drilling large diameter drilled shaft; a BG 28 (BS 80) rotary drilling rig for foundations, which also was used for drilling large diameter drilled shaft; a Kobelco CK1600-11 hydraulic crawler crane for cages and structural steel erection, which was used for heavy lifting of drilled shaft reinforcement; a Kobelco CK2500-11 hydraulic crawler crane for cages and structural steel erection, which also was used for heavy lifting of drilled shaft reinforcement; a Liebherr LTM 1400 (500T) hydraulic crane, which was used for heavy lifting of precast concrete beams; a Caterpillar D8T dozer, which was used for heavy dozer and clearing operations; and a Caterpillar 730C tree axle articulated dump, which was used for off-road heavy embankment hauling.
The project Web site reports that the frequency of periodic traffic congestion experienced by the Turnpike has seen a steady increase.
“Between 2005 and 2032, population and employment growth in central New Jersey is expected to increase by 17.5 percent and 28.2 percent, respectively. The volume of goods moving from Port Newark and Port Elizabeth will continue to grow; expansions at the Port of NY/NJ and growth at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) also will contribute to increased traffic. As a result, by 2032 northbound traffic volume is expected to increase by nearly 68 percent; southbound traffic is forecasted to increase by 92 percent.”
As originally constructed, the New Jersey Turnpike was a 118-mi. (190 km) direct route between the Delaware Memorial Bridge and Route 46 in Ridgefield Park. It served as a direct link to the George Washington Bridge and New York City. Construction of this “roadway of the future” began in January, 1950, and the roadway opened to traffic in November, 1951, only 21 months later.
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