Residents split on plan to loosen Turnpike's belt

Public hearings are underway on the state?s plan to widen the New Jersey Turnpike, a project that?s getting mixed reviews from residents and drivers.

The plan calls for an expansion of the road from six to 12 lanes between exits 6 and 8A, including a cars-truck-buses split. It will also add an extra lane to the current cars-trucks-buses side from exits 8A to 9.

Many drivers see the project as a sign of relief. The Turnpike Authority estimates southbound traffic will increase by up to 92 percent in the next 25 years. Due to the expected rise, drivers are welcoming the idea of more lanes.

Meanwhile, residents who live near the Turnpike say they worry the sound barriers will move closer to their yards. Others worry the extra lanes will take away their playgrounds, tennis courts and baseball fields. Some residents say they plan to fight against changes to their community.

The Turnpike Authority plans to start the $2 billion project in 2009 and finish within four years. Residents will have one more chance to attend a public hearing on the issue Thursday evening in Mercer County.

For an extended interview with a resident about the project, go to channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.

Related Information:NJ Turnpike Widening Program

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