$900-million road construction project begins in Bellmawr

March 12, 2013 4:20:39 AM PDT
They broke ground today on a $900-million road construction project in South Jersey.

In the long run, the work on the 295-42-76 interchange is expected to ease congestion along the dangerous corridor.

For years, the area where Route 42, Interstate 76 and Interstate 295 all come together has been a horror show for drivers.

"You've got to cross four or five lanes of traffic and keep looking over while you're crossing," Georgio Decesare of Boothwyn, Pa. said.

Now after years of planning, the state will begin construction of the 9-year $900-million project designed to ease traffic, simplify the interchange, and cut down on the accident rate, which is seven times the statewide average.

The key feature will be direct connection to I-295.

Instead of the dangerous merge required now, a viaduct will be built to take 295 traffic over 42 and 76. While that will not be completed until 2018, transportation officials say motorists will get some relief within two years.

"That whole 42/76, those ramps where you've got people going from right to left and left to right, that'll be gone. You're not going to wait nine years for improvement," New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson said.

The federal government is paying for the project which is expected to create hundreds of jobs.

30 properties in Bellmawr, Mount Ephraim and Gloucester City have either been bought up or claimed by eminent domain for the project. Three still need to be acquired.

Bellmawr's mayor has concerns that construction may disrupt businesses, but he just wants to get the project started.

"It's been changed so many times, it just aggravates me; I just hope it's finalized for them," Mayor Frank Flipek said.