Commuters who pass through the Garden State Parkway's Exit 151 interchange will finally see an end to construction delays.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority will complete all work to the new Watchung Avenue Bridge in Bloomfield by the end of the week. The $12 million project, which is an interchange for north- and southbound traffic on the GSP, began in April 2011.
The final paving of both east- and westbound lanes on Watchung Avenue was completed this past weekend, and traffic remains open in both directions this week.
The project is “essentially completed,” said Jamal Mahmood, resident engineer for the project. He added there is only “minor stuff” to be done, such as lane stripping and putting signs in place.
The New Jersey Turnkpike Authority decided to construct a single bridge to replace the two former bridges that carried traffic in opposite directions on Watchung Avenue. According to Mahmood, the previous bridges were too low, dilapidated and in poor condition.
The new bridge is wider and can handle more cars, said Mahmood, so there will be less congestion on Watchung Avenue. There are also sidewalks going in either direction with a high, inward curling fence running along the sides of the bridge.
Modern traffic lights were placed at the four intersections around the bridge. Mahmood said the new traffic signals are “updated” and “all connected,” which will allow “traffic to move more freely.”
The wider bridge also has two turning lanes to enter the parkway in either direction, which will also cut down on queues at traffic lights.
The interchange at Exit 151 had remained open during construction, with one lane of traffic in each direction.