The federal highway award will address deteriorated conditions from the edge of Mount Ephraim to the Woodlynne border.
By Matt Skoufalos | January 29, 2024
Route 168 in Camden County will benefit from an infusion of federal transportation dollars aimed at making the highway easier to travel in general, with specific improvements for bicyclists, pedestrians, and mass transit users as well as motorists.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced an $8-million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant award for the reconstruction of Route 168.
The award was one of 28 INFRA grant projects selected by the federal agency from among 190 applications totaling around $3 billion in improvements, and the only project in New Jersey to be so awarded.
Representatives from the U.S. Department of Transportation as well as from the New Jersey Department of Transportation have not yet responded to requests for comment on the project.
Likewise, local and county officials in the area defined by the project — which includes highway traversing stretches of Camden City, Haddon Township, and Mount Ephraim — did not have information on the specific siting of proposed improvements described in the project outline.
According to the U.S. DOT announcement accompanying the grant award, improvements in various stages of the project area will include:
- reconstructed pavement
- resurfaced pavement
- a road diet and Complete Streets enhancements
- ADA accessible sidewalks, approximately eight signalized intersections, bicycle lanes
- improved bus stops
- at-grade rail crossing safety improvements
- guiderail upgrades
- utility relocations
- upgraded stormwater management infrastructure
- Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) deployment.
From the project description, its aims include “address[ing] known safety challenges for an overburdened community by modernizing existing infrastructure and providing a more compatible environment for pedestrians and bicyclists” as well as “address[ing] the mobility needs of the communities’ pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists while also facilitating more efficient freight movement.”
Listed benefits of the work in the U.S. DOT description included improved safety, equity, quality of life, and job creation, as well as freight movement, multimodal options, and innovation.
A drive through the area outlined in the grant award indicates that the bulk of it traverses the suburban economic corridor of Mount Ephraim Avenue in Camden City, from the edge of the Fairview neighborhood at its intersection with Route 130 to the New Camden Cemetery along the Woodlynne border.
Improvements will continue along the Black Horse Pike, through Haddon Township into Mount Ephraim, along a commercial district that touches shopping plazas in Audubon.
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The roadway defined by the grant award includes a number of significant local arterial intersections, including those with Collings Avenue, Route 130, Nicholson Road, and Woodlynne Avenue.
In a statement, U.S. Representative Donald Norcross (D, NJ-01) lauded “the bipartisan infrastructure law” that funded the INFRA program, noting that the grant award “will make Route 168 safer, more efficient, and more reliable for the thousands of South Jerseyans who drive, bike, and walk it every day.
“From improving rush hour traffic to extending bike lanes, I look forward to seeing the many ways this grant will benefit our community,” Norcross said.
In a written statement, New Jersey Assembly Deputy Majority Leader Bill Moen (D, NJ-05) described the grant award as “certainly welcomed” and “a puzzle piece to the larger transportation improvements that we are working to bring to reality in South Jersey.
“One of the project’s main goals is to help address safety challenges that some of our communities face by adding increased, accessible sidewalks, bike lanes, and other pedestrian safety measures,” Moen wrote.
“This is great news for our Fifth District towns along the Black Horse Pike.”
This is a developing story. Stick with NJ Pen for updates.
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