Gloucester County residents express concern over proposed Rt. 322 bypass near Rowan University

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Thursday, July 11, 2024 3:47AM
Gloucester County residents express concern over proposed Rt. 322 bypass near Rowan University
Gloucester County residents express concern over proposed Rt. 322 bypass near Rowan University

GLASSBORO, New Jersey (WPVI) -- As local and county officials look to move forward with plans for a proposed Route 322 bypass in Glassboro, New Jersey, residents in the borough are expressing concerns.

The project was initiated by Gloucester County "to address operational and safety concerns along Route 322, Route 47, and High Street in the vicinity of Rowan University," authorities say.

County representatives told Action News they are particularly concerned about traffic issues and pedestrian accidents at Rowan University along Rt. 322.

"Kids being hit by cars, traffic accidents -- because of a lot of the pedestrian traffic," said Barry Beckett, an engineer for Gloucester County.

According to the county, there have been 15 pedestrian and bicycle crashes reported along Rt. 322 over the past three years.

Beckett said the county wants to reroute the bypass, which runs through Rowan's campus.

He said the county's solution is a two-part plan. The first piece, he said, is to create a truck bypass that will get traffic off 322.

"The other piece that goes through downtown Glassboro will be mostly car traffic," Beckett said.

He said that the second piece would involve creating a parallel road between Girard Road and the rail corridor that would continue along High Street to Route 47/Delsea Drive.

This road would divert drivers off 322 and take them to downtown Glassboro.

Beckett said the project will keep traffic from going through Rowan University to create a walking district through the middle of campus.

"I think it's great they want to make it safer for the students of Rowan, but they gotta think about the residents," said Lynda Gallashaw of Glassboro.

On Wednesday night, hundreds of residents filled the gym at Glassboro High School for what they thought was a meeting about the project.

There was no traditional meeting, however, which led to some heated moments as frustrated residents pressed Glassboro Mayor John Wallace to answer their questions.

Wallace told the crowd there was a misunderstanding about what was meant to take place at the high school.

Inside the gym, project renderings were set up on easels for people to view, while county representatives were available to answer questions.

"The county brought all of the visual documentation about the bypass to try to dispel any misconceptions," the mayor told Action News.

"We will set up another meeting with the county in a format that people will be comfortable with," he added.

According to the county's proposal, constructing this project would impact 34 properties, including nine entire property acquisitions.

However, Beckett said county officials haven't determined if they will have to use eminent domain to acquire any properties in the path of the project.

Laurie and Kirt Holland told Action News they fear their home could be in the project's path.

"They are saying they won't need to take our house, and that there is enough room to run Girard and 322 between our sidewalk and the railroad track," Laurie Holland said. "They are saying at the moment it wouldn't impact, but who knows."

"It seems like there's better options that may be able to fulfill what ultimately needs to happen without impacting homeowners and neighborhoods," Kirt Holland added.

Most of the people in the crowd Wednesday expressed concerns about the construction, and ultimate bypass, cutting through their neighborhoods.

"You have to really consider everybody. We've given them alternatives. It's their turn to give us some alternatives," said Denise Norton, of Glassboro.

Norton told Action News she has studied other traffic diversion plans at universities throughout the country, and she believes there are other options.

As for a price tag for the project, Beckett wasn't able to provide Action News with exact numbers. He estimated it could cost tens of millions of dollars, much of which, he said, would come from the state.