UNION, NJ — At least three houses in the township may be impacted by a proposed interchange-improvement project set to start in 2020 at the intersection of U.S. Route 22, Morris Avenue and the Garden State Parkway.
The Route 22, N.J. Route 82 and Garden State Parkway Interchange Improvement Project will include several changes, including the expansion of a right-of-way passage along the westbound side of Route 22. Route 82 is also known as Morris Avenue.
That state-controlled expansion project may impact residences along Warren Avenue.
Joseph Grather, an attorney representing three residents who will be impacted by the proposed project, told Local Source that the state Department of Transportation would either have to negotiate a sale to obtain his clients’ property or go to court
“In the circumstance of (one of) my client(s), they may take the entire property because the new bridge is so close to her house, even though partial takeover would leave her with an economic remnant,” Grather said at a Jan. 18 information session about the project. “So they’d have to buy the whole thing because you can’t live there with a bridge right next to it.”
NJDOT spokesman Stephen Schapiro said the project is still in its design phase and the agency has taken residents’ concerns into account while weighing the safety of the current infrastructure.
“Whenever NJDOT has a project, the department works closely with local officials, residents and businesses to minimize the effect on the community,” Schapiro said in a Jan. 22 email. “However, the need to improve the safety of the merge and improve the on- and off-ramps to Route 22 westbound requires the widening of Route 22.”
Schapiro added that, during the concept development phase of the project, a preliminary preferred alternative for the project was presented to the public for residents and town officials for input. He said preliminary plans for the project were adjusted to take into account the comments the agency received, however the current plans are still slated to impact at least three properties near the intersection of Morris and Warren avenues.
The overall purpose of the project is “to improve the safety, operation, and infrastructure on Route 22 and Route 82 within the interchange limits,” according to flier providing information about the project.
To this end, Route 22 westbound will be widened between the on-ramp from the Garden State Parkway Interchange 140B and the off-ramp to Ingersoll Terrace, Schapiro said. The Route 22 westbound bridge over Route 82 will also be widened approximately 23 feet for two additional lanes: an exit lane to Ingersoll Terrace and an exit lane to the Garden State Parkway.
Approximately 10 NJDOT representatives held a public information session on Jan. 18 at the township’s Municipal Building. About 25 people, including state Sen. Joseph Cryan, were present to learn more about the project.
Resident Bob Mangan, who does not have a lawyer, said his property will be impacted by the proposed construction. He was concerned about the removal of trees behind his property, the noise of construction and traffic, and said he would like to see a protective barrier put in place to protect his home.
“I’m also concerned about safety,” he told LocalSource during the public information session. “The road is going to be that much closer to my backyard and my swimming pool in the summer time, and I’m not going to have that protection from the trees, the beautiful trees in the back. It used to be like a park, and now it’s probably not going to be there anymore.”
Currently, the ramp system connecting Route 22, Morris Avenue and the Garden State Parkway is missing several direct connections at the GSP exits 140A and 140. While certain moves are possible indirectly via U-turns or other roads, other are not possible at all, the flier said.
The proposed project will include an auxiliary lane along Route 22 eastbound, between the exit ramp to Morris Avenue eastbound and the Lowe’s Shopping Center access. The eastbound Route 22 bridge over Morris Avenue also will be replaced.
A bus stop on the Route 22 eastbound side will be moved to the east of the Lowe’s driveway and sidewalks will also be installed. Meanwhile, the existing ramp from Route 22 eastbound to Route 22 westbound will be removed, moving traffic onto Morris Avenue instead.
The westbound Route 22 bridge over Morris Avenue will be replaced with a wider structure to make way for an auxiliary lane on Route 22 westbound between the entrance ramp from the southbound side of the Garden State Parkway and the exit ramp for Ingersoll Terrace.
Meanwhile, the left turn from Ingersoll Terrace to Morris Avenue will be restricted, but an exclusive left turn lane from Morris Avenue eastbound to Harding Avenue will be created.
An auxiliary lane is also proposed for the movement from Route 22 eastbound to the Morris Avenue eastbound ramp, extending to the left turn ramp to the Lowe’s shopping Center.
There will also be pavement reconstruction or resurfacing, draingage, signage, striping and lighting impovements throughout the interchange.
The project is still in its design phase, Schapiro said.
“During the final design phase, NJDOT will seek to minimize the removal of existing trees and landscape plans will be developed to mitigate any impacts,” he said. “In addition, as the design and right-of-way plans are finalized, the affected property owners will be contacted by the department and a formal right-of-way negotiation process will take place.”