Following the completion of State Route 55 from Route 42 in Camden County to Port Elizabeth in Cumberland County in 1986, there have been numerous meetings and discussions about finishing Route 55 to have it link with the Garden State Parkway in Cape May County.
In a meeting with Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1st) in 2015, the Cape Issues group was informed that the completion of Route 55 is no longer on the state Department of Transportation list of pending projects.
In a subsequent Cape Issues meeting with U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd), he explained there was nothing he could do without there first being action from the State of New Jersey.
It is well known that from its current terminus in Port Elizabeth, where it goes from four lanes into the 25 miles of serpentine, two-lane highway of Routes 47/347, the road is seriously under capacity for the traffic volumes it carries.
Every weekend from late spring to early fall the number of fatal accidents is greater than those on the Garden State Parkway, Route 9 and Route 50 in Cape May County.
The Cape Issues group feels the following factors need to be considered and that Route 55 completion to the Parkway should be added to the top of the DOT list of pending road projects:
1. Routes 47/347 cannot efficiently and safely handle the weekly vacation traffic they currently carry.
2. Routes 47/347 are one of the primary coastal evacuation routes from Cape May County.
3. There is an adverse environmental impact of thousands of vehicles backed up on Routes 47/347 every weekend.
4. The safety and quality of life of residents is degraded by the traffic congestion on Routes 47/347 every weekend. This includes vehicles leaving Routes 47/347 and taking local roads to avoid the congestion.
5. The completion of Route 55 could be a boon to business development and job growth in Cape May County, especially to the Cape May County and Woodbine airports.
6. Previous studies have identified multiple options for the completion of Route 55, including existing rail rights of way.
Route 55 is not the only highway serving the Jersey Shore that is substandard. For the thousands of Delaware, Maryland and other state residents that use the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the congestion on the two-lane portion of Route 40 is a major issue that needs to be corrected.
While the removal of the traffic signals and the creation of grade separations at exits 9, 10 and 11 on the Garden State Parkway was a much-welcomed improvement, the long-delayed completion of Route 55 and improvements to Route 40, must now be addressed.
We call on our elected and appointed officials to take the action needed to address these concerns.
ED. NOTE: Cape Issues is a non-partisan, volunteer group that focuses on community betterment issues.