The traffic congestion, merging speeds, and high car accident rates at southern New Jersey’s Interstate 295 interchange at I-76 and Route 42 have been a point of contention between drivers and the New Jersey Department of Transportation for decades. Now, after years of studies and proposals, the NJDOT has pledged to fix the problem.
The local Gloucester City, Bellmawr and Mount Ephraim traffic using the busy interchange is compounded by travelers going between East Coast states and heading for the Jersey Shore. In 2009, the DOT reported that more than 400 car accidents, 25 percent of which involved injuries, took place at and around the interchange. The last fatal accident recorded there took place in the summer of 2010.
Travelers who regularly use the interchange complain that I-295 traffic has no direct route, forcing sudden and unsafe high-speed lane switches and ramp mergers, especially when traffic is entering from the feeder routes.
During a 1980s road paving project along Route 42, NJDOT took its first, full notice of the congested intersection. Fourteen years later, a transportation study confirmed “operational difficulties”. In 2006, alternative strategies were presented, and in 2009, a final $900 million decision was made. Next spring, the first of four construction projects will begin to straighten mainline I-295, making it a direct route with accompanying ramp improvements and new overpasses.
Drivers traveling through the high-crash New Jersey interchange will see slow increments of change in the federally funded I-295 Direct Connection project, but the construction end dates will likely not be until 2017 or later.
Local residents are concerned that the construction itself will cause more traffic problems. DOT officials promise as few traffic disturbances as possible, with the bulk of the construction taking place in the overnight hours.
If you or a family member has been injured in a car accident, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation.
Source: Courier-Post, “State aims to cure accident-plagued South Jersey interchange”, Joe Cooney, 19 April 2011