TRENTON – New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner James Simpson today announced the start of a major rehabilitation project involving three linear miles of eastbound and westbound travel lanes of Interstate 78 in Essex and Union counties.
The $72 million project will complete a five-phase program that began in 2005 to completely rehabilitate and improve I-78 from milepost 50.4 in Springfield to 58.5 in Newark, one of the busiest stretches of highway in New Jersey with an average of 145,000 vehicles traveling it daily.
“This project will benefit tens of thousands of New Jersey residents every day and exemplifies NJDOT’s commitment to safety and state-of-good-repair investments,” Simpson said. “Under Governor Christie’s leadership, NJDOT will continue to prioritize projects to ensure that we make the best use of resources as we renew and rebuild our network of roads and bridges which serve as the circulatory system of our economy.”
Last month NJDOT’s contractor, a joint-venture of Ferreira Construction and Crisdel Group, began initial construction mobilization to remove rumble strips, set up signs and place temporary pavement along the outside shoulders.
NJDOT is scheduled to begin reconstructing the left-most Express lane in both directions this weekend. During this phase of construction the Express lanes will be narrowed to one lane and shifted on to the right shoulder. In the Local lanes, the right shoulder will be converted to a travel lane, providing an additional Local lane through the construction zone. Overnight lane closures will be necessary this weekend to implement the new construction zones.
The highway will be reconstructed in stages to minimize impacts to motorists. Subsequent stages will reconstruct other portions of the highway, working from the center of the highway to the outside lanes.
- A total of four of the five I-78 travel lanes will remain open in each direction during peak period hours throughout construction.
- Single and double-lane closures will be allowed during overnight and off-peak hours.
- During certain stages of construction, the contractor will utilize full overnight closures of the Express lanes.
- Construction operations will be limited during the summer months.
- Access to and from interchanges will be maintained to the Local lanes, however, there will be lane shifts during ramp reconstruction work.
NJDOT will break up and remove the existing concrete and construct a new asphalt roadway along both directions of I-78 from west of Ramsey Avenue (milepost 53.8) in Union Township to the Route 21 interchange (milepost 56.9) in Newark. The new pavement is designed to last up to 20 years.
Deck patching, joint-sealing and guide rail repair will take place at sixteen bridges. New Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) fiber-optic cables will be installed within the project limits to connect with ITS facilities previously installed along neighboring sections of I-78.
NJDOT is making a significant effort to minimize the traffic impacts associated with the upcoming construction through public outreach and safety initiatives. NJDOT is coordinating the project with local police and emergency response units. Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) that were constructed in previous phases of the I-78 program will be utilized, along with additional portable DMS on Route 78 as well as the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, to provide real-time work zone traffic information to motorists.
Additional safety measures will be implemented, including the creation of emergency pull off areas and emergency response crews and tow trucks will be posted at each end of the project during critical construction phases. This project is scheduled to be completed in early 2014.
In late 2007, NJDOT completed the $42 million first phase of the I-78 rehabilitation program. That contract fully reconstructed 2.3 miles of I-78 in both directions from Route 24 to the Garden State Parkway in Union Township.
Subsequent contracts in the overall program included:
- The $150 million Garden State Parkway/I-78 Interchange 142 improvement project which, in addition to building the two missing connections at the interchange, reconstructed the I-78 mainline highway between mileposts 52.8 and 53.8 in Union, Hillside and Irvington.
- A $5 million project which created the state’s first permanent real-time travel alert system on I-78 between Springfield Township, Union County and Newark City in 2009.
- A $14 million project, completed late last year, which reconstructed I-78 between mileposts 56.9 and 58.4 in Newark City.
The precise timing of the work is subject to change due to weather or other factors. Motorists are encouraged to check www.511nj.org for real-time travel information.
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