New Jersey Roads - I-78/Garden State Pkwy. interchange

I-78/Garden State Parkway interchange construction

I-278 was supposed to connect I-78 to the west with the Garden State Parkway to the south. NJ 75 was supposed to connect I-78 to the east with the Garden State Parkway to the north (via I-280). Between the two roads, there was no need for corresponding ramps at the actual I-78/Parkway interchange, but neither one was built (though there are stubs of each along I-78). It was clear from 1980 at the latest that neither connection would be built, so, of course, the NJ Highway Authority sat on the existing interchange for 50 years without improving it at all. At least it has been possible, because the ramps merged briefly with each other, to go from west to south and from east to north - I'm sure that if all the connections were in place, that connection would have disappeared. Well, cue the NJ Turnpike Authority taking over the Highway Authority, and suddenly fixing the interchange that had become part of North Jersey lore was a top priority. Seven years after the takeover (2010), both new ramps opened and finally completed one of the more notorious breaks in the Interstate system. (Until this worked out, NB-WB traffic would head east on I-78 and U-turn in the middle of Hillside on local streets and ramps definitely not intended for through traffic. SB-EB traffic was just completely out of luck.)

Passing by the future Parkway NB flyover ramp to I-78 WB in March 2009, towering above the existing demi-trumpet (missing, of course, the NB-WB movement). Construction was progressing faster from the ramp (west) side than the Parkway side, so the overpass has a hanging end.

Now in July 2009, with an abutment placed for a different bridge altogether. This overpass will take SB Parkway traffic to I-78 EB, another missing movement that has gotten less attention than its NB-WB counterpart. The NB-WB flyover is designed to come into the right side of the Parkway offramp while this flyover will leave from the left side so that there's no weaving.

Continuing along the ramp to the Parkway SB, the flyover is now structurally sound and enough of the concrete deck has been poured to support construction vehicles and equipment. That makes construction a lot easier than trying to do it all from below.

Now in September 2009, there has been progress with placing the superstructure (steel beams and supporting concrete and steel) for the future SB-EB ramp at the Parkway interchange that will touch down in the middle of the existing ramps. There will also be a new ramp from I-78 WB to undo the existing merge and weave that I described all the way on top (remember way up there?), and in preparation for completing the base of that ramp, there are new signs replacing the old button copy (R.I.P.) to get traffic into the left and right lanes sooner. The next step is to split traffic up so that NB goes left and SB goes right and the new I-78 WB ramp touches down in the middle of them and itself splits both directions.

January 2010. The flyover ramp has yet to do its flying over, which is okay because it's the last piece of the puzzle to be built, but Parkway signs could use improvement. There has to be a considerable stock of regular green on yellow circles out there - and is it that hard to come by North, South, and a pair of arrows? Wouldn't that be cheaper than making these from scratch?

The two pieces of the flyover in April 2010 have made it halfway across I-78, but there's a bit of a jump between.

Progress on that other less flyovery ramp, the one from I-78 WB, continuing alongside it until it touches down, at which point it's no longer a bridge and no longer needs steel girders. Therefore, the work can be finished more easily and faster. At the end of the ramp are the pieces that will go into completing it.

Looking back up the ramp busily under construction, with pieces of flyover above it.

Memorial Day, 2010. Not a lot of time for ramp progress, but I'm coming at it from the other direction (WB). To the right, the I-78 bridge over the Parkway is getting reconstructed and extended for the new offramp. This apparently requires a small army of bulldozers, or maybe a Swiss navy of them.

Behind yet another misconceived construction sign, the new WB ramp doesn't look like it needs a bridge at all. It doesn't start with one, so why does it rise up in the background? It's to allow the EB offramp to split in half; the EB-SB ramp passes underneath the WB ramp, which is what eliminates the weaving.

Continuing WB, looking north and finally turned back around east to ogle the progress. In the fourth photo, the columns in front of the WB offramp bridge will soon accept the rest of the SB-EB flyover.

Last batch of photos, once again EB and up along the ramp, just two weeks later in June 2010, but that's been enough time to complete the steel underbelly of the flyover across I-78. The rest of it across the EB ramp to the Parkway still has to go, and the last photo shows that piers are just getting started (left side). Notice the temporary supports in the third photo, pressed into service until the permanent pier can be constructed. I sure noticed them, because it's quite unusual to put up the top before the bottom's done (or, in non-laymen's terms, to put up the superstructure before the substructure). It must have been related to the tight timeframe in place so that work could proceed from all angles at once.

On the right side of the last photo in the previous run, concrete was curing on top of the new WB offramp. Here's one last look back south as the last bits are settled before it opens. After seeing the same construction three times in three months, I didn't get any more photos before all the ramps were open, so the page ends here.

Tying it all together, click for a drive-through from I-78 EB to the Parkway SB after construction has completed.

Onto the Garden State Parkway
Onto I-78

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