Galloway officials are pleased with most of the plans for widening the Garden State Parkway in the township to three lanes, especially building a 30,000 square foot State Police barracks at the Jimmie Leeds Road service area.
The new facility would replace the Bass River barracks, just north of the Mullica River. The new facilty in Galloway should increase business in the area and assist in assuring public safety, Galloway officials believe.
Deputy Mayor Don Purdy, who Thursday toured a public information meeting held at the Richard Stockton State College with Councilman Jim Gorman, Acting Township Manager Steve Bonnani, Stockton College Professor and Republican candidate for Galloway council in the November elections Brian Tyrrell and several Galloway Township employees, said the timing of the project coincides with attempts to bring more business to the township.
But Gorman worries that current plans to eliminate commuter parking -- 30 to 50 cars are typical -- to make room for state troopers doesn't make sense. He and Purdy believe there is still time to convince the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to reconsider.
Ron Fischer, assistant chief engineer design for the authority, said that could happen, but he noted that the Jimmie Leeds Road service road is not a legally recognized entance, but rather a "defacto interchange" that was never designated for commuter parking.
"It's not to say it is impossible. I'm sure it will come up," at public hearings before work on the new trooper's station begins in 18 months, said Fishcher.
Lamis T. Malak, construction manager for the project, could not appease Somers Point resident Mary Purcell, who is still angry over tree cutting done on the parkway in advance of the widenting project.
Malak repeated several times that the project was about widening the roadway and making it safer, not landscaping.
A 34-year-resident of South Laurel Drive, the Somers Point road that feeds traffic from the parkway to Ocean City, Purcell left the meeting in a huff.
"You can tell they are all engineers. There's not one arborist," she complained. In her opinion, adding a third lane will simply bring more drivers, not alleviate congestion.
State Sen. James Van Drew, D- Cape May, was among the last to tour the widening meeting.
The parkway below mile marker 30 in Somers Point, Atlantic County, is the terminus of the project and the road will remain just two lanes in each direction in Cape May County because there is not a need for more capacity, according to Fischer.
Malak said the authority hopes to have final bids in later this month and awarded by October, with preliminary work begun by the year's end.
The parkway north of mile marker 63 has already been widened in the first phase of the project, as was the bridge over the Mullica River.
No one from Southern Ocean County attended the meeting, though the parkway will be widened in Stafford, Eagleswood and Little Egg Harbor townships during the first phase of the new widening.
Malak expects "substantial completion" of that section by May 2013, but several smaller bidges will also be replaced and that will take until the fall of that year.
Widening of the parkway from mile marker 40 to 52 should be done by the summer of 2015.
Malak said she expects it will take until 2017 for the final widening to be completed.
Including the already completed widening in northern New Jersey, the total cost of the project, all paid for by bonding, is set at $894 million.