For decades, residents of Bayonne’s eastern end have been complaining about the noise, air pollution, and parking issues created by the funneling of truckers and commuters through residential streets. Meanwhile, the line of trucks and cars backed up on Avenue E and the Turnpike Extension seemed to get longer every year. These issues may finally be alleviated; on Monday, May 21, local and state leaders held a ceremony celebrating the $310 million project’s early completion—reportedly three months early.
“With this 14A Exchange Project being done, being able to go up the Turnpike and drive right on the base without going through city streets or 440 is a big plus for the City of Bayonne,” said Mayor James Davis.
The project increased toll plaza capacity from 11 to 13 lanes, extended the ramp from Interchange 14A westbound, expanded the Hudson County Extension to two lanes, and replaced the existing two-lane connector bridge with a new four-lane structure to Routes 440, Route 185, and Port Jersey Boulevard.
A new flyover ramp, where the ceremony was held, was also constructed from the interchange and Port Jersey Boulevard to Route 440 south. The existing traffic signal at East 53rd Street was removed, and the new roundabout will maintain permanent access to the 14A Interchange.
“A decade ago, 14A was synonymous with grief, high accident rates, congestion both on the turnpike extension and on the local feeder roads, diminished air quality as cars and trucks piled up idling, delays, headaches,” said Murphy. “For the 50,000 motorists that travel through 14A on a daily basis, for residents of the surrounding area, and for the future of economic development, something clearly needed to be done. And today, that something that needs to be done is happening.”
The project will increase access not only for industrial truckers, but for potential commuters coming to and from the former Military Ocean Terminal Base, where thousands of units of residential buildings and a commuter ferry are due in the coming years. The city will also benefit from fewer multi-ton trucks wearing and tearingBayonne’s locally maintained roads and bridges, which could make for fewer pot holes and a safer driving, walking, and cycling environment.
“A decade ago, 14A was synonymous with grief, high accident rates, congestion both on the turnpike extension and on the local feeder roads, diminished air quality as cars and trucks piled up idling, delays, headaches.” – NJ Gov. Phil Murphy
The Exit 14A Interchange was designed in the 1950sas part of the Newark Bay Extension Bridge project that was completed in 1956. That project was a result of federal and state policies that invested heavily in highway construction and trucking.Then, motor traffic was about a third of what it is today. After that project, Bayonne industry boomed, as did the houses along trucking routes.
“I can remember as a youngster these trucks would basically shake your house on Avenue E. I grew up on east 47th Street, very close,” said Third Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa, who attended the groundbreaking for the project in March of 2015 and whose constituency represents the area affected by the project.
Bayonne residentsare often seen on social media posting pictures of 18-wheelers struggling to navigate Bayonne’s side streets. Comment sections fill up with concerns about the safety of kids in the streets and motorists.
La Pelusa is thankful that the project is finished, and some of Bayonne’s biggest road headaches may be alleviated,
“Everything the NJ Turnpike said they were going to do, they stuck to their schedule and their work,” La Pelusa said.“I was very impressed by that. I can’t say enough nice things about the turnpike. We had meetings before they started the work, and they were on target as far as work projections and closings.”
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.