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CARTERET, NJ-Many New Jerseyans identify themselves geographically with the closest exit of the New Jersey Turnpike, and folks here and in adjacent Linden, NJ have long identified themselves with the most congested Turnpike exit of all-Exit 12. The interchange’s lack of capacity and resulting congestion have been putting a damper on development in the two communities, according to state and local officials.

That’s about to change, although it could be as much as five years for people to see much of a difference. That’s how long it will likely take the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, with the support of the NJ DOT, to complete a $130 million overhaul and expansion of the interchange. The project will add a new system of ramps and a doubling of the number of toll collection lanes.

“This project will lead to almost $1.5 billion in reinvestment in Carteret,” Mayor Daniel Reiman predicted at a recent news conference at which the project was introduced. State and Turnpike officials offered similar projections.

Adjacent land is mostly used for industrial purposes, and truck traffic on local streets has long been a problem. Indeed, the interchange project has been in the works since the early 1990s, according to state and local officials.

For the Turnpike Authority, which runs the toll road, the funding for the project will come from its capital improvements budget. The Authority, which is in the process of merging with the New Jersey Highway Authority, the agency that operates the Garden State Parkway, has motorist toll collections as its primary source of funding.

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