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Route 322 and Fries Mill Road Intersection Project Gets Attention From NJDOT Commissioner

Route 322 and Fries Mill Road Intersection Project Gets Attention From NJDOT Commissioner
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Now stalled for over 8 months, the intersection rebuild project for Route 322 and Fries Mill Road in Monroe Township (Gloucester County) received significant high-level leadership attention recently when Mayor Greg Wolfe organized a meeting consisting of recently appointed NJDOT Commissioner Francis O’Conner and his staff, Gloucester County Engineers and a developer.

The group met in Trenton to discuss the project status and forward direction.

The Monroe Township Mayor’s message on social media says the meeting was very productive, and NJDOT has made this project a top priority. The Township has hopes the construction will resume in the upcoming months. Further updates will be provided by the Township.

The core aspect to the lengthy delay may not be aware to most. It is due to questions raised by the State regarding water management at the site.  The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has also taken a role in the project review.

Additional “perc tests” were ordered, which analyzes the drainage and water absorption capabilities of the land under a variety of simulated scenarios including worst-case situations of very heavy rains.

While the provided design documents do not indicate stormwater management basin locations, my drone imagery shows FOUR new large stormwater basins were developed in the area. From prior conversations with the County I know three of them are directly in support of the project, and I believe the fourth is also.

I have communicated with Mayor Wolfe on the status of the intersection project and several weeks ago he commented that he was told the project review team was still waiting the results of those “perc” tests… although I am not certain if they have been completed as of the meeting last week.

It would seem that the outcome of those tests could require additional project design changes.

Not that I’ve been writing these road project articles a long time… but I have covered numerous road projects in South Jersey and I can’t recall a project seemingly fully approved by the State of New Jersey and having moved deep into construction… being halted for additional review.

More on the delay below… and I have to give a huge “kudos” to Joseph Smith of the  Courier-Post who back in January had the core story of the work stoppage.

Route 322 and Fries Mill Road – June 17, 2024. Three new storm water drainage basins can be seen in this image; Upper left, upper right (going behind the trees) and far right at photo edge.

Readers have been reaching out to me for months on the project citing frustrations on the extended construction halt, disappointment in not having the benefits of a finished roadway, as well as concerns over commuter safety driving in the area of the unfinished project. 

I’ve typically directed readers to the Courier-Post article, as I awaited the results of the larger leadership team meeting.

The Monroe Township posting stated a developer also attended the meeting. While that developer project was not disclosed, back in November an all-new build Heritage’s Dairy Store was approved for the intersection. That private development project is also likely impacted by the delays of the intersection review.

Stormwater Basin on Route 322

Route 322 and Fries Mill Road Intersection Rebuild

I first brought news of this project being approved back in November of 2022.  At the time it was expected to take about 10 months to complete, targeting the end of Summer 2023 for completion.

The project has experienced other delays previously mostly related to the coordination of utility company efforts to move back telephone poles and associated overhead wires.

The core goal of the project is to widen the four intersection segments to allow for dedicated turn lanes and pass-through lanes… which should significantly reduced traffic backlogs.

Rt 322 and Fries Mill Rd Intersection Improvement Project starts in Monroe Township Gloucester County NJ
Gloucester County Rt 322 and Fries Mill Road Intersection Improvement Close-up Shows the dedicated turn lanes that will be part of the completed project.

Currently both roadways only have one lane in each direction as the enter (and exit) the intersection.

Both roadways have considerably increased they amount of traffic over the years, and traffic stoppages happen regularly when cars attempt to turn at the intersection.  This is particularly challenging with left-turns. Once a car decides to make a left it can completely stop traffic flow from that direction.

The redevelopment project will also include roadside shoulders, new traffic signals, sidewalk, ADA curbing as well as drainage upgrades.

Stormwater Basin On Fries Mill Road

Courier-Post January Article

As mentioned, in January of this year the Courier-Post tracked down the core reason for the delay and published an article.

The article states the project was halted since October 6th over concerns of proper stormwater management at the site. Additional tests were being done with results sent to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection and the State Transportation Department.

I’ve since chatted with Mayor Wolfe who directly confirmed the delay.

Borings were done to confirm estimated groundwater elevations.

This fourth stormwater basin is some distance from the intersection but was developed at the same time as the others, and has a similar design.. so it appears its related to the Route 322 and Fries Mill intersection project.

At the time of the article it was anticipated that the analysis would be completed over the winter and construction would’ve resumed earlier this spring.

But even with the latest meeting with Commissioner O’Conner of NJDOT, it is not clear exactly what status the water management review is at… are the tests done? Has the related engineering work started? When does the project restart?

But it seems Mayor Wolfe is confident with the outcome of the meeting and will be providing updates over the next few months.