Work on the Garden State Parkway during the next three years will remake north and south access to Galloway Township.
At about the same time a massive widening project from mile marker 30 to 80 is finishing in 2014, work should begin on creating two new full interchanges at mile markers 41 and 44, both in the township.
Police Chief Patrick Moran welcomes the changes, saying full interchanges will decrease congestion in the Jimmie Leeds Road area, as well as improve travel for his officers and ambulances along Leeds.
"We've been waiting a long time for this," he said, adding that having a full interchange on Pomona Road will also ease traffic on Leeds.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority, the Parkway's parent agency, expects to have a public information center to explain the projects and take questions about exits 41 and 44 either this fall or winter and then to conduct a formal public hearing next spring or summer, according to spokesman Thomas Feeney.
Construction should begin by spring of 2013, just about the same time the widening project is finishing up.
As part of the widening project, a new State Police barracks replacing the Bass River station, will be built at Interchange 41.
"It will be great to have them there as an added resource," said Moran of the coming State Police station.
Deputy Mayor Don Purdy, Councilman Jim Gorman and other township employees who attended last week’s presentation by the New Jersey State Turnpike Authority at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey aren’t against State Police barracks coming to the township, but they are opposed to the possibility of closing the entrance to Jimmie Leeds Road so that residents wouldn’t be able to use it.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, Gorman, asked Acting Township Manager Steve Bonanni draft a letter to be sent to the authority expressing theses concerns, which he said were shared by the whole council.
“We welcome the barracks. They’ll use the local businesses and they’ll do things locally. We welcome all that, plus we’ll have another resource in addition to the township police and Stockton. Like the chief said, they won’t be there for every day use, but they’ll be there in case something major happens.”
Mayor Keith Hartman agreed the presence of the barracks would be a good thing for Galloway Township, as it would “beef up the police presence.”
He also felt access was important to keep, but not at the expense of the interchanges.
“I agree the access is important to have,” Hartman said. “Residents need to be able to go in and out. The interchange is also important to have. I want to fight to keep the access, but I don’t want to mess up the chance for Galloway Township to get an interchange. We need to express our concerns, but we need to make sure the interchanges occur.”
“Residents use that gas station,” Purdy said at Tuesday night’s meeting. “They go there for food. They meet up there and car pool. We told them the financial impact closing the interchange would have on those businesses.
“They have to have some public hearings on it, and I suggest residents come out and state their concerns.”
Both interchanges should be completed by the end of 2014, according to Feeney.
Officially, there currently is no Interchange 41 on the Parkway, though Galloway drivers know that's not exactly the case.
Drivers now use an access road at the service area as a de facto interchange with Jimmie Leeds Road, but that causes congestion and could pose a hazard to service area patrons, according to Feeney.
The plan is to build new exit and entrance ramps between the Parkway and Jimmie Leeds Road, add two signalized intersections and widen Jimmie Leeds Road so that there is a turning lane in each direction.
Once that’s done, there will be full access northbound and southbound between the Parkway and Jimmie Leeds Road, and the access from the service area to Leeds Road will be blocked, said Feeney.
The existing Interchange 44 at Pomona Road includes a southbound exit ramp and a northbound entrance ramp.
The Interchange 44 Improvement Project will complete the interchange, adding a northbound exit ramp and a southbound entrance ramp.
The estimated cost for each of the interchange projects is $25 million.
The funds are budgeted in the autority's capital budget.
Feeney said Parkway bridges over Leeds Road were widened several years ago to accommodate a road widening project proposed by Atlantic County, but the county did not follow through.
The county did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.