HACKENSACK, NJ (AP) Delays in building the twin span for the Driscoll Bridge mean the Raritan River crossing for the Garden State Parkway will not be open until October 2006, nearly a year later than expected.
The $175-million span, expected to relieve jams from commuters as well as shore-bound tourists, was to be ready at the end of 2005, Gov. James E. McGreevey said two years ago when the project was announced.
“December ’05, that was very optimistic,” state Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere told The Record of Bergen County in Monday, July 16 editions. “Every star in the universe would have had to line up to meet that.”
The bridge will be ready by then, but not the connections to the highway, he said.
But Joe Orlando, a spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, said his agency and the New Jersey Highway Authority, the former operator of the parkway, have always maintained the span would not open to traffic until 2006.
The span itself had a completion date of 2005, with the approaches to be finished the following year. Because of construction material changes, the span and approaches will now be completed in the same year.
“There is no harm to the motoring public — since the bridge was not going to be accessible to traffic — in taking the extra time to upgrade the construction and roadway materials that will now save $20 million in maintenance costs,” Orlando said.
Once the twin span is operating, the deck of the existing Driscoll Bridge will be rebuilt. Approximately 80 million vehicles cross it annually.
Once that is done, the original bridge will handle eight northbound lanes of traffic, while the new bridge will carry seven lanes south. The original bridge now has 12 narrow lanes and no shoulders.