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Atlantic City Expressway Widening – Virtual Public Info Center Runs Through April 5th

Atlantic City Expressway Widening – Virtual Public Info Center Runs Through April 5th
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The Atlantic City Expressway is in the early design stages of a widening project to add a third lane starting at the Western end (Route 42) which when completed, the Expressway will be three lanes the entire length.

Through April 5th they have a Virtual Public Information Center online which offers an explanatory recorded presentation of the project.

The public is being asked to submit feedback and questions, and has until May 10th to do so.

The Atlantic City Expressway is a Southern New Jersey toll road connecting the more populated Western parts of the region, to the Eastern “touristy” Jersey Beach towns.  The ACE is operated by the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA), who also operates the Atlantic City Airport.

The Expressway was originally constructed as a two lane highway (each direction) in the early 1960s, opening in 1965. 

Years ago a significant portion of the Expressway was widened into three lanes from the eastern Atlantic City side. 

In 2022, SJTA completed a Concept Development Study determined the need for the Expressway to be widened to three lanes the entire length, as well as chose a preferred alternative.

When this new project is completed, the entire Atlantic City Expressway will be 3 lanes from Route 42 (Washington Township)  to Atlantic City. To minimize any environmental impacts, the new lanes will be added to the inside undeveloped buffer area between the two roadway directions.

Currently the project is in Preliminary Engineering, and it is expected that this year it moves into the Final Design Phase.

Likely an obvious point but with the AC Expressway being a Toll road it is self-funded. From earlier coverage it was stated that this project costs is already funded by a tolls and a 2020 fare increase.

Expecting that many will ask “When?” regarding construction timelines and completion… the Final Design Phase which starts this year is expected to be a four year effort. During this phase the lower level construction details are created, environmental permits acquired, and the construction bidding process completed.

This means construction is not expected to start before 2028…  but the actual start date (and completion) timeframe has not been set yet.

Atlantic City Expressway Widening Timeline (Image : SJTA)

SJTA states that for the project none of the existing local road overpass bridges will need to be rebuilt (such as Berlin Cross Keys Rd).

One aspect that is expected to see more significant work is the Western connection point of the Atlantic City Expressway to Route 42 in Washington Township, as that connection point between the two heavily traveled roadways will be maintained as three-lanes all the way through.

The South Jersey Transportation Authority has done a great job of preparing a dedicated website for the widening project which offers details, a video presentation, and even a downloadable PDF version of the presentation slides.

So be sure to check out the official ACE Widening website, but also I will summarize key aspects in the remainder of this article.

Atlantic City Expressway Widening – Need

Anyone who has driven the Atlantic City Expressway in the summertime likely already knows a main need for the widening… during peak summer travel periods traffic can become congested on the roadway as the volume of cars on the two-lane segment can be greater than the currently supported capacity.

Consider also that when everyone seems to be driving home on Sunday at 6:00 PM, the current lane reduction from three lanes to two, can also cause challenges for commuters traveling with a higher volume of cars on the roadway.

SJTA says the current congestion and complexities in portions of the roadway result in an excessively high number of rear-end and sideswipe crashes.  The existing Level Of Service is currently designated poor (LOS E), and it is expected to degrade to the lowest level (LOS F) by 2045.

Beyond the more obvious extra lane allowing more traffic flow, the project will also address other inefficiencies such as acceleration /deceleration lanes at exits which in some locations are too short,  as well as curved roadways at the exits not being optimally configured.

Be sure to check the ACE Widening project website for additional reasons for the project.

Atlantic City Expressway Widening at Route 42 (Image : SJTA)

Atlantic City Expressway Widening – Route 42 Connection

The Western end of the AC Expressway is a core challenge for commuters who are faced with lane challenging road curves, lane reduction in the center of the roadway, and speed changes.

With the new design, three full lanes will be maintained all the way through the connection of Route 42 to the Atlantic City Expressway (in both directions), which will require some more advanced design and construction improvements.

At the Western connection point one ACE overpass bridge is expected to be completely rebuilt as new, while a second overpass bridge of Route 42 will be rehabilitated and widened.

The new bridge is part of the Atlantic City Expressway itself, where it crosses over northbound Black Horse Pike. 

In its current configuration this overpass segment of the ACE is two separate overpass bridges, neither of which have enough width to support a third lane.

As part of this widening project it appears they will be redeveloped as one much wider bridge supporting both directions of the Expressway traffic, with 3 lanes in each of those directions.

To provide improved connection and merger operations for commuters between the two highways, it appears that the ACE Widening project will address lane reconfigurations and other updates for an almost one-mile length of Route 42 down to the College Drive overpass.

A key component of that is the overpass bridge of Route 42 where it crosses over Sicklerville Road, which will need to be widened and rehabilitated.

Additional changes identified along Route 42 include lane reconfiguration which will eliminate the center lane merge, as well as a relocation of the emergency vehicle turn around which is currently close to the College Drive overpass.

ACE Widening – Other Changes

My goal with this article was to inform readers that an Atlantic City Expressway “Three lanes all the way” widening project is coming in a few years, and that there is an online Virtual Public Information Center taking place.

While I’ve highlighted some key reasons and aspects, there are details on other portions of the widening project roadway… and it’s best to check out the website and presentation video.

Links and Locations

Atlantic City Third Lane Widening Project

Comments through May 10th, Email or Webform at the Project Website