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I-295/I-76/Route 42 Direct Connection


Overview


The New Jersey Department of Transportation's (NJDOT)
I-295/I-76/Route 42 Interchange project in Bellmawr, Mt. Ephraim and Gloucester City in Camden County is currently in Final Design and Construction. Construction began in March 2013 and will continue until 2021. The first of four major construction contracts has been awarded. The second, third and fourth construction contracts are in the Final Design Phase.


The Draft Environmental Statement (DEIS) was submitted in November 2007, followed by the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) being submitted in December 2008. The Record of Decision was signed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in March 2009.

Aljo's Curve photoThe purpose of this project is to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion at the intersection of
I-295, I-76 and Route 42. It will address quality-of-life issues relating to motorists, residents
and the environment.

At present the I-295, I-76 and Route 42 interchange does not provide a direct connection for I-295 through traffic. The existing interchange requires motorists to reduce speed in both directions of
I-295 to safely negotiate ramps with 35 mph speed limits.

In addition, drivers must also compete with vehicles entering from Route 42 and I-76, causing dangerous conditions. Being a major artery for Philadelphia commuter traffic via the Walt Whitman Bridge, and a connection to the southern New Jersey shore, Route 42 and the Atlantic City Expressway, this interchange is the busiest in the region.

Due to the high volumes of traffic, low main line design speed, complex configuration of the interchange and weaving movements, a high incidence of motor vehicle accidents often occur.

Background Studies

Between 1985 and 1987, an investigation was performed with the possibility of creating a direct connection with a design speed of 70 mph.

A straightened alignment was preferred from a traffic standpoint for optimal design speed, but it required the acquisition of a substantial amount of residential properties in the community of Bellmawr. Because of this, NJDOT decided to cease any further detailed data collection and/or analysis of this concept, which had come to be known as the "Unrestricted Alternative".

NJDOT's Bureau of Project Scope Development was then asked to evaluate and develop new conceptual solutions for improving the interchange. Twelve concepts emerged to be workable from strictly a constructability standpoint. These concepts illustrated how design speed would be increased up to 60 mph. Even without the benefit of detailed environmental studies and public or outside agency input, it was evident that each concept would have some impact to at least one known environmentally sensitive resource.

A key objective of the scoping/feasibility phase of NJDOT's effort was to improve the I-295/I-76/Route 42 interchange and to evaluate all of the potential impacts of these concepts. Coordination and communication with the surrounding communities and regulatory agencies was paramount in the consensus building required to make the necessary decisions on this regionally significant project.

Prior to the development of the alternative concepts for the
I-295/I-76/Route 42 interchange, the Route 42 widening project provided an additional fourth lane of travel for vehicles on Route 42 into and out of the interchange to the south. The new lane also eliminated the southbound weaving between I-76 to I-295 and the I-295 to Route 42 movements.

To meet federal transportation regulations, NJDOT in conjunction with Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), agreed to a Transportation Investment Study (TIS). This study provided comprehensive multi-modal alternatives to address identifier transportation deficiencies within this area. Included in the TIS was a Congestion Management Study (CMS) that identified travel demand reduction strategies and operational improvements that complement a potential investment. The initial results of this study confirmed a continued need for the direct connection of I-295 movements through the interchange.

Efforts associated with the development of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) included:

  • Project partnering
  • Screening
  • Topographic Survey
  • Community involvement
  • Traffic Count Program
  • Development of Alternatives
  • Environmental Baseline Evaluations and Analysis
  • Technical Environmental Studies
  • Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement and a selection of an Initially Preferred Alternative

Subsequent to the completion of the EIS a Record of Decision was issued.

 
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  Department of Transportation
  P.O. Box 600
  Trenton, NJ 08625-0600
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  Last Updated:  March 21, 2014