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Transportation Projects Primer

This page is simply descriptive summaries of the key transportation projects for South Jersey that have been covered here at 42

I simply got tired of starting every update article about an ongoing road project with a full description of the project. I’ll simply link to this page from the individual articles.

Direct Connection

The Direct Connection project is a $900+ Million Dollar project centered in Bellmawr New Jersey which intends to streamline roadway travel in this high traffic and confusing roadway area where Routes 295, 76 and 42 converge.

While many problems are being addressed with the Direct Connection project, I feel that the key issues they are expecting to improve with the project:

  • Tight curves: Traffic must slow down to navigate tight bends such as Al-Jo’s curve
  • Commingled road movements: Multiple traffic routes dump into a common wide roadway. Without distinct routes, traffic slows as drivers consider their next move, and weave in and out of other vehicle paths.
  • Missing routes: Not having all possible highway intersection routes accounted for, causes traffic to exit the highways for local roads.
Direct Connection Bellmawr Explainer Video
Direct Connection Bellmawr Explainer Video

Originally the project centered in Bellmawr New Jersey primarily sits below the local streets in a recessed roadway, with a large portion of the traffic movements in the common lower bowl.

The new design will bring the Route 295 portion up and over Browning Road in Bellmawr. All told there will be 4 distinct levels of the roadway including one roadway going under the current lower road depth.

This is a massive project requiring new roadways and massive overhead raised roads, as well as the rebuild of numerous existing bridges.

As of April 2011 the project was expected to be completed in 2017 based on news articles at the time. That was changed to 2021 based on a start year of 2013. The Philadelphia Inquirer has reported a full completion date is 2028, but a recent NJDOT communication to 42Freeway seems to indicate 2027 for the full project.

My September 2022 “Direct Connection Explainer” post covers a lot more of the details regarding the need for the project.

Direct Connection: Al-Jo’s Curve

Heading down 295 South from say the Cherry Hill area, the roadway is typically a straight path and has a speed limit of 65 mph.

Until you reach the Bellmawr area where “Al-Jo’s Curve” is located. The roadway curves with a very sharp bend requiring cars to slow down to a speed limit of only 35mph.

“Sharp bend” is not actually strong enough of a word for the turn. It’s a peninsula-like protrusion.

Direct Connection Bellmawr Explainer Video
Direct Connection Bellmawr Explainer Video

The overhead profile shows it as an almost 180 degree turn that looks very similar to the side profile of Great Adventure’s Kingda Ka rollercoaster.

A perfect design for a thrill ride. But highway designers prefer their roadways to be a lot less thrilling.

Direct Connection Wall 22 Collapse

On March 25, 2021 a large segment of the not-opened-yet wall and roadway collapsed (Wall 22), with the tall retaining wall sliding out and away from the road, causing the roadway surface to fall in on itself. (Sinking analysis article and video)

In June of this year NJDOT released a very detailed report on the causes of the slide/collapse of Wall 22. It did not provide details on what the forward plan to correct would be (this was not part of its charter). (Cause report article and video)

Direct Connection Bellmawr NJ Collapse
Direct Connection Bellmawr NJ Collapse

In October 2022 I published updated information on the plan to rebuild the wall. That full article is here.

The new design will use a poured concrete wall instead of pre-cast panels.

They will also use a different foundation for the project, with more rigid Steel H-pile and drilled shaft foundations.

Missing Moves

Missing moves is a $180 million dollar road project in Bellmawr New Jersey to allow access direct access from Route 42 to the Southern sections of Route 295… and of course in the opposite direction also.

Currently the Southern sections of Routes 42 and 295 do not have direct access to each other. This causes drivers to exit the highways onto local roads to then jump back on the other highway.

This slows traffic through the region and created a greater traffic burden on the local roadways.

The plan for Missing Moves is to create a new raised roadway along the edge of the Bellmawr landfills (and at the back of the small “Curaleaf” industrial area, to link Route 42 and Route 295.

The Creek Road bridge over Route 295 is also being rebuilt as a part of this project.

Direct Connection Bellmawr Explainer Video
Direct Connection Bellmawr Explainer Video

There will not be any additional local road exits with new new Missing Moves roadway. For example, once you leave Route 42 North to enter on to Missing Moves, it’s going to take you directly to Route 295 South.

As of November 2022 the Missing Moves project is moving at a very fast pace.

 This Missing Moves project is expected to be completed in late 2023.

Rt 42 Bridges Over Blackwood Trail

Bridges Over Blackwood trail is a bridge replacement project on South Jersey’s Route 42, this one targeting the bridges over the Blackwood Railroad Trail in Gloucester Township.

The plot-twist with this project is… they are actually REMOVING these bridges and not rebuilding them as bridges! Dirt will be filled in and the roadway will be a more traditional road construction… but they will also include a large pedestrian tunnel for passage underneath.

To explain: The “trail” under Route 42 in this section was originally a railroad train track.

The trains are long gone, the tracks have been removed, and in it’s place a paved pedestrian trail was created years ago.

NJDOT Route 42 Bridges over Blackwood Rail Train Project
NJDOT Route 42 Bridges over Blackwood Rail Train Project

With the current need to replace the overhead bridges, engineers determined that since the trains no longer ran underneath, it was not necessary to spend the higher construction costs for full bridges (plus higher ongoing maintenance costs).

The construction project will first see the installation of the concrete tunnel structure and arch. Earth will be filled in above it, as the bridge structures are removed and replaced as more traditional road beds.

This November 2022 update article gives a lot of addtional details and images on the project.

Interstate 76 over Klemm Ave

This is a $57.2 million project to replace the I-76 overpass at Klemm Ave. In Gloucester City NJ. It also crossed over top of Conrail Tracks and South Branch of Newton Creek. 

This is a wide stretch of road at ELEVEN lanes, plus THREE shoulder lanes.  Fourteen lanes total!  And the new roadway is planned to be even wider!

This is one core segment of a project replace four large i-76 elevated roadway bridges and decking over several years. at a cost of $175 million.  Basically the same cost as the new Missing Moves effort in Bellmawr.

The I-76 overpass at Klemm Ave was called out as being very deteriorated and a safety risk:

The rapidly deteriorating Route 76 Bridge over South Branch Newton Creek, Klemm Avenue and Conrail bridge deck has necessitated dividing the project into three breakout projects to accelerate delivery of this particular bridge deck.Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission