Plan to make Parkway Exit 125 E-ZPass-only moves forward

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By Jacqueline Durett
Correspondent

SAYREVILLE A hearing on the toll amount for the upgraded interchange at Garden State Parkway Exit 125 did not elicit much feedback, although how the toll dollars will be collected has been the subject of debate.

As of now, the redesigned southbound exit will have an E-ZPass-only toll plaza built into it as a companion toll to the existing Raritan toll plaza. It will not be able to accommodate drivers who do not have E-ZPass, so if a driver without E-ZPass goes through it, the driver will be charged for the toll as well as a $50 administrative fee.

Officials from the Sayreville Economic and Redevelopment Agency have said they would prefer a toll plaza with multiple payment options, but have said they were told by New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) leadership that doing so would add time and cost to the project. Residents have also complained about the automatic violation fee on social media.

Work at The Pointe development project, which will be adjacent to the new southbound exit, is dependent on the timeline of the interchange.

The hearing, held at the NJTA office on Route 9 in Woodbridge, only drew one comment from a member of the public, although three hours were allotted for the session. Dan Campbell’s concern was that those without E-ZPass would be penalized at the new exit for going through it and not being able to pay.

“It just slowly seems to be progressing where everything benefits E-ZPass drivers,” he said.

In response, NJTA Chief Operating Officer John O’Hearn told Campbell drivers would have alternatives from the parkway to access local streets in Sayreville. He also said 80 percent of drivers on the Parkway use E-ZPass.

The NJTA’s intent is to create a full interchange for northbound and southbound access from Chevalier Avenue, recognizing that The Pointe is likely to generate more local traffic.

However, Turnpike spokesman Thomas Feeney clarified that while The Pointe’s timeline and investment in the project accelerated the timeline for it, “The authority always wanted to have a full interchange,” he said.

Included in the project are the replacement of existing Parkway bridges and local roadway improvements. The entire project is slated for an October 2019 completion date.

Feeney said the project is currently on schedule.

Feeney also said that public hearings are held whenever there is a proposed change to the Parkway or Turnpike fee schedule.

The public comment period on the toll runs through 5 p.m. April 17. Written testimony can be sent to: Office of the Executive Director New Jersey Turnpike Authority, P.O. Box 5042, Woodbridge, 07095-5042.

After the close of the public comment period, the fee schedule will go to the Turnpike Authority commissioners for a vote.