By Maddy Vitale
An improved on-ramp project at Exit 17 of the Garden State Parkway leaving Sea Isle City hit some bumps, but officials said not to worry. The project to make a smoother travel experience for motorists will be completed next month.
“We are proceeding with the project and both the exit ramp and the final paving of Sea Isle Boulevard are expected to be completed prior to June 21,” Cape May County Engineer Robert Church said Monday.
Motorists leaving Sea Isle on Sea Isle Boulevard have to make a hard right and then squeeze into a narrow lane next to a concrete construction barrier to head north on the parkway.
As part of Sea Isle Boulevard’s reconstruction, the entrance ramp is being reconfigured to offer a much wider and easier way to hop on the parkway at Exit 17.
Previously, Cape May County officials, who oversee Sea Isle Boulevard, said final work on the roadway would be completed in time for the start of the summer season, which is traditionally Memorial Day weekend. However, trouble with grading pushed back that completion date by a few weeks.
During Saturday’s Sea Isle City Council meeting, Business Administrator George Savastano gave a report to Council about the new ramp.
He told Council that the county found a problem with the grading of the ramp and more work needs to be done to fix those problems.
Savastano also explained that the concrete curbing would need to be removed and replaced.
He noted that the way the ramp is configured now, it is a “tough right turn” for motorists to make onto the ramp.
Exit 17’s off-ramp on the southbound side of the Garden State Parkway merges with Sea Isle Boulevard. For motorists wanting to access the parkway’s northbound lanes, they must follow Sea Isle Boulevard out of town and then hop on the on-ramp.
Church explained in a detailed email that the design of the entry ramp provided by the consultant originally had several issues, which included inadequate turning clearance for larger type semi-trailers.
This resulted in a modification to the westerly-entry ramp radius, he said.
“The original grading of the ramp incorporated transitions between the main line roadway and the easterly entry ramp that resulted in abrupt and rather severe grade drop-offs,” Church said.
He said it was especially noticeable when the first section of sloping concrete curb was installed.
“Rather than rushing to have the ramp paved prior to the holiday, we decided to re-evaluate the entire entry ramp transitions and determined that a more appropriate grading transition could be developed by maintaining the elevation through the mainline travel lanes and performing grade transitions through the ramp itself, eliminating the abrupt grade drop of the original design,” Church said.
He added that the contractor will begin on Tuesday with revised grading. The final paving of Sea Isle Boulevard is expected to occur under a mid-week night paving operation prior to June 21 to complete the project.