Plans by the NJ Turnpike Authority call for widening Route 18 southbound near the turnpike entrance to five lanes, with two lanes dedicated to vehicles exiting onto Exit 9.

Details of the $22 million road renovation project were presented to the public Wednesday during a public information session at the Township Municipal Building. The project includes widening a stretch of Route 18 from three lanes to five just before Naricon Place, with two lanes dedicated to traffic heading to the turnpike. The Turnpike Authority also plans to expand the entrance ramp from Route 18 to the turnpike to two lanes.

On the northbound side, plans call for three lanes on Route 18 though the traffic signal at Naricon, then a narrowing to two lanes as it approaches the merge with NJ Turnpike traffic. As Route 18 and the exiting Turnpike traffic merge, there will be four lanes as the road crosses over Westons Mill Pond. The plans would mean moving Route 18 40 feet to the east.

"This will improve traffic safety and flow on Route 18 south and north," said Senior Project manager for the NJ Turnpike Authority Michael Grant.

Grant said that once approved, the project could begin in spring 2012 and take about two years to complete. He also said the improvements are already fully funded by the Turnpike Authority. In addition, a draft Environmental Impact Statement must be submitted to the state Department of Environmental Protection by April. 

The project is part of the Turnpike Authority's plan to ease traffic flow and backups on Route 18. The improvements are designed to accommodate current and future traffic increases. 

Turnpike spokesman Ralph Feeney said last week that feedback received at the public information session will be taken into consideration as preliminary design of the project continues. Residents, business owners, commuters and other interested parties will have another chance to comment on the project when a formal public hearing is held in the summer.

"There's nothing outrageous being proposed here," he said Wednesday night.

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