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UNION, NJ – For three decades, commuters and others in the busy office and industrial corridor surrounding the intersection of I-78 and the Garden State Parkway have had to deal with the congestion resulting from the fact that the two superhighways have had no direct link. Now, the days of driving miles in the opposite direction to make U-turns to get from one roadway to another are ending.

Construction is just under way for a true intersection, a project that is costing $149 million and will take three-and-a-half years to complete. The funding for the project is being divided up by the New Jersey DOT and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, the state agency that operates the Parkway.

“This has been a major congestion and safety issue for the towns along Route 78,” says NJ DOT commissioner Kris Kolluri, in a statement. “It has been one of our highest priorities.”

The first phase involves a circular flyover ramp connecting the northbound GSP with westbound I-78, scheduled to be finished in just more than a year. The next two years after that will be spent reconstructing existing traffic lanes of a mile-long stretch of I-78 near the GSP interchange to accommodate the new traffic flow. Phase three in late 2011 will add a flyover connecting the southbound GSP with eastbound I-78.

The Parkway was completed in the mid-1950s, and I-78 more than two decades later. Original plans called for a full interchange, but that was never carried out, until now.

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