Gloucester County has started an almost $10 million Mantua Blvd Extension project, extending from the existing traffic light intersection at Woodbury-Glassboro Rd into the upcoming Edelman Fossil Park of Rowan University.
Currently Mantua Blvd. ends at Woodbury-Glassboro Rd, effectively making it a “three-leg” intersection. This intersection is directly next to woods which sit between two shopping centers (Target and Lowes).
The plan is to develop a roadway coming off of this intersection (a fourth leg) which will head through the small patch of woods and into the Edelman Fossil Park complex and parking area.
In my visit today, construction crews are already well into clearing the trees through the middle of the small patch of woods for the roadway.
They also seem to be working on leveling the ground, but they are really just at the very early stages of a road project that is expected to be completed in November 2023. The museum is scheduled to open in Spring of 2024.
In this article update I’ll also discuss the Edelman Fossil Park for those who are unfamiliar, and provide a few updated photos.
Mantua Blvd Extension at Edelman Fossil Park
In a February 3rd post at the Gloucester County Facebook page, the County published a nice and concise explanation of what the Mantua Blvd. extension entails.
I hope they don’t mind I am basically resharing that description here!
Also in that post was a photo which included Director Frank J. DiMarco, Deputy Director Heather Simmons, liaison to the Department of Public Works, Commissioner Jim Jefferson and Dr. Ken Lacovara of Rowan University. (Facebook Post)
This was basically the formal announcement to the public that “It’s happening!” (the roadway).
From Gloucester County:
The work for the Mantua Blvd. (CR676) extension includes the construction of the roadway extension, which will serve as an entrance roadway to the Rowan University Fossil Park.
The existing traffic signal at Woodbury-Glassboro Rd (CR 553) and Mantua Blvd. (CR 676) will be upgraded to accommodate the new roadway.
The project also includes the installation of wick drainage field, performing surcharge to achieve proper settlement, two MSE retaining walls with soil nail fascia, two corrugated steel plate pipe culverts, stream stabilization, drainage, water quality treatment and stormwater management, striping, and signage.
R.E. Construction Co. has been contracted to complete this $9,865,670.53 project.
Mantua Blvd Extension: Need For Better Access
Many are likely aware that the Fossil Park site has had visitors for several decades, as well as further back when it was operated as a marl quarry.
So why the need for a new access roadway?
Well, the existing access road is positioned between the Lowe’s shopping center and Route 55, and it doesn’t really have a safe connection point to Woodbury-Glassboro Rd. to support the number of museum visitors that are expected.
That existing road is also positioned a little too close to the route 55 exit, further making it a dangerous connection point.
So with the implementation of the Mantua Blvd extension, visitors to the park will have the advantage of the full traffic light intersection to access the museum park from all directions, and commuters will benefit from the fact that the entrance is not positioned directly next to the Route 55 exit.
Edelman Fossil Park of Rowan University
The Edelman Fossil Park of Rowan University is a $73 Million dollar museum and grounds which is being developed in Mantua NJ behind two shopping centers (featuring Lowe’s and Target)
This truly is a World-Class museum offering visitors a unique one-of-a-kind experience… and it’s being developed in a very unexpected place!
Well let’s just say the animals and marine life roaming the earth 66 million years ago picked the location a little bit before Lowe’s and Target showed up on the scene!
The groundbreaking for the museum complex took place in October of 2021, and they are targeting a Grand Opening in Spring of 2024.
I wrote about the Edelman Fossil Park last summer, and if you want more details on the history about how it came to be, please go back and check out that article.
But as a short summary, for many decades the acreage behind the two Shopping Center was home to a company which mined the marl clay, which was sold to be used in industrial processes.
Over the many decades of the business operating (and even before that going back 100 years), workers and visitors have been finding significant fossils trapped within the clay!
Luckily for South Jersey and scientists worldwide, professor Ken Lacovara learned of the property and started a grass roots effort to have the property saved for permanent use as a one-of-a-kind fossil resource.
A NJ.com article from 2012 highlights the excitement regarding the property, and the work that the professor was trying to do to have it saved from development.
I don’t think the professor realized at the time exactly what his initial plans would grow into… But in about a year there will be a world class one-of-a-kind museum on the property, featuring an active fossil dig site, and with a brand new easy to use access entrance road.
This is quite the big deal on a national, and even worldwide scale. The famed and widely respected Smithsonian Magazine last month listed the Edelman Fossil Park as one of the most highly anticipated new museums… in the world!
Links and Location
Edelman Fossil Park (CURRENTLY CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC)