Route 55

Four-lane Route 55 ends and two-lane Route 47 begins in Port Elizabeth.

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WOODBINE 一 Route 55 became a verbal sparring point here for two major-party U.S. Senate candidates Oct. 2. The 40.54-mile, dual lanes in each direction, highway links Route 42 in Gloucester County to Route 47 in Maurice River Township, Cumberland County.

At that point, the 65 mph highway funnels to a slower two-lane road that twists and turns through woodland and past a lake into Cape May County.

The Herald has highlighted the data that show the accidents and fatalities on the road connecting to Route 55, namely Route 347.

Traffic routinely backs up on that stretch during summer weekends, adding travel time to and from the county. Accidents often result in hours of delay.

Such conditions and other statistics were the focus of a $99,000 study commissioned by the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization to validate the conditions of the road and Route 55.

Hugin’s Statement

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Robert J. "Bob" Hugin Oct. 2 denounced Sen. Robert "Bob" Menendez’s "inaction and decision to side with special interest groups over South Jersey residents regarding the long-delayed extension of Route 55, also known as Veterans Memorial Highway."

In a post-press conference release Hugin stated, “Sen. Menendez has had nearly two decades to deliver the Route 55 extension for Cape May residents that will generate economic growth and prosperity, as well as highway safety in the region.” 

“Instead, Menendez has completely ignored the people of South Jersey while catering to special interests groups that oppose the project. This project needed to be completed decades ago and it can be done in a way that protects the surrounding environment. It’s time to get it done,” Hugin continued.

Hugin was joined by Cape May County and municipal officials who highlighted the importance of the project and Menendez’s failure to support the local community.

Menendez’s Statement

Menendez issued a release that countered what Hugin stated. In it he noted the GOP candidate, "conveniently ignored his staunch support for Chris Christie, who by all accounts failed to make necessary infrastructure investments during his eight years as governor."

The release continued, “When it comes to meeting New Jersey’s transportation needs, building bridges, repairing highways and improving mass transit, the eight years under Chris Christie were an abject failure. 

"If finding a real solution to the Route 55 traffic nightmare was such a concern for Bob Hugin, then why did he continually stand by Christie and donate $250,000 to his failed presidential run?” said Menendez's campaign Communications Director Steve Sandberg. 

“As the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development, Sen. Menendez has continually delivered record federal highway and transit funding for New Jersey. 

"In the most recent transportation bill, he secured over $1 billion in annual, guaranteed highway funding and over $600 million in annual, guaranteed transit funding to ensure New Jersey has the resources it needs to complete the transportation projects the State deems a priority. 

"But the state for eight years under Chris Christie never once prioritized the Route 55 bottleneck or even devised a workable plan to fix the problem and make life easier for people of Cape May and Cumberland. It was never a Christie priority, and it’s certainly not Bob Hugin’s."

GOP Officials

“The failure to complete the Route 55 extension has impeded economic growth in Cape May County and the surrounding region,” stated Woodbine Mayor William Pikolycky. “We need leaders like Bob Hugin in Washington who will be partners with local elected officials to ensure all levels of government are serving in the best interests of the people of New Jersey.”

“Bob Menendez says he fights for New Jersey, but he certainly isn’t fighting for us,” stated Freeholder Vice-Director Leonard Desiderio. “For decades, our community has advocated for the Route 55 extension to be completed, but time and time again our requests have fallen on deaf ears of North Jersey politicians who never even bother to visit South Jersey or take an interest in our issues. It’s time for new leadership and I’m confident Bob Hugin will get results for our community.”

“It’s encouraging that leaders like Bob Hugin recognize the importance of local infrastructure projects and the positive impact they have on economic growth and quality of life,” stated Freeholder E. Marie Hayes. “I know that Bob Hugin will be a force for change and a strong advocate in fighting for our local communities.”

Rt. 55 Background

Construction of the route, which initially was slated to extend from Gloucester County into Cape May County, was halted in 1975 with its southern terminus falling short in Maurice River Township in Cumberland County.

The stalled project has not only prevented economic growth and development in the region, but it also has created dangerous traffic problems, leading to increased accidents in Cumberland County where the highway merges with a local road.

Route 55 is a state highway that runs 40.54 miles south from Route 42 in Gloucester County to an intersection with Route 47 in Maurice River Township, Cumberland County. Route 55 is used as a commuter route north to Philadelphia and, along with Route 47, as a route from the Delaware Valley to the Jersey Shore resorts in Cape May County.

In rural Cumberland County, the four lanes of Route 55 narrow to a single lane before merging with Route 47, a local road authorities contend is not suitable for the heavy tourist and commuter traffic it has been handling. The South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization issued a report last year concluding auto accidents in the area where Route 55 and Route 47 merge are four times the statewide average.

Since the southernmost portion of the roadway construction was cancelled in 1975, local residents and officials have been calling for the roadway to be extended into Cape May.

Numerous attempts have been made to complete the roadway, however each has ultimately failed.

With no state funding committed to the project, federal action may be the only avenue available to complete Route 55.

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