- The price of a proposed project to widen the New Jersey Turnpike has more than doubled, according to new budget documents from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. They show the estimated cost to update an 8-mile stretch of the Turnpike, one of the state’s most heavily traveled highways, has risen from $4.7 billion to $10.6 billion.
- The project would repair and add lanes to the Hudson County highway extension to and from the Holland Tunnel, which connects to Manhattan. It would also replace exit 14 in Newark, New Jersey; the nearly 70-year-old Newark Bay Bridge and exit 14A in Bayonne, New Jersey.
- Turnpike Authority officials blame the price increase on inflation and rising costs to borrow money, NJ Spotlight News reported.
The goal of the Turnpike overhaul is to accommodate future travel demand and revamp structures that are nearing the end of their service life, according to the Newark Bay Hudson County Extension Needs Assessment and Alternatives Study prepared by Dallas-based construction and engineering firm Jacobs.
However, the project has been controversial even before the higher price tag became public: Environmental advocates, community groups and even New Yorkers say adding more lanes will increase traffic and emissions and work against the state’s own climate goals. Gov. Phil Murphy has signaled support for the project despite the backlash and his climate goals.
Environmental studies and preliminary engineering began in 2021. If the project moves ahead as proposed, final design is slated for 2023, according to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. Construction would start in 2026 and is expected to last between 10 and 15 years.
The work will be divided into three phases:
- Widen the Hudson County highway extension to four lanes in both directions with shoulders between Turnpike exit 14 in Newark and 14A in Bayonne, and also replace the Newark Bay Bridge.
- Replace the two-lane highway and bridges with three lanes plus shoulders in both directions between Exit 14A in Bayonne and the Columbus Drive exit in Jersey City.
- Replace the elevated structures over downtown Jersey City from Columbus Drive to Jersey Avenue.
The Turnpike is by no means the state’s only urgent infrastructure need. The American Society of Civil Engineers found 37% of New Jersey roads were in poor condition and 7.8% of its bridges were structurally deficient in 2021, while its infrastructure received a C- grade overall