Residents of the Lawrence Brook neighborhood asked the Turnpike Authority during a public meeting Monday evening to build a barrier wall between their properties and the roadway to help mitigate the myriad issues that have sprung from the construction project. Councilwoman Nancy Pinkin said the hearing was vital to clearly illustrate the debilitating effect the project has had on residents.
"We need to press on the Turnpike Authority that for our residents, this is not just a minor issue, but a major issue," Pinkin said. "We need to raise the profile of our need for a barrier wall."
Turnpike officials have said Exit 9 is in need of operational and safety improvements to deal with a high volume of traffic entering and exiting the toll plaza.
The Exit 9 expansion project includes widening the ramp that connects Route 18 southbound and the turnpike to two lanes, and improving the exit ramp merging onto Route 18 north. As a result of the construction, residents of the adjacent Lawrence Brook neighborhood said the project has had a significant impact to their quality of life.
Concerns exist over a potential drop in the value of homes due to the increased noise from the roadway and construction, concerns for possible structural damage from the constant vibration, and safety issues. In June, the Turnpike Authority halted construction at Westons Mill Road for a few weeks while a study was conducted on the effect of vibrations generated by the construction on nearby homes.
Pinkin joined with a group of residents in advance of the public meeting to voice their concerns about the project (click here to view video).
"This area is so close and the neighborhood has been so devastated, that they need a barrier wall," Pinkin said. "I think the Turnpike Authority heard how strongly residents feel loud and clear, and that's what we were hoping to accomplish."
Pinkin added that the authority will conduct free home inspections for any interested residents to determine if they sustained property damage from the construction vibration. As a result of the meeting, the authority said they will go back and look at the plans to see if anything can be done for affected residents.
Whether this will prompt the construction of a much needed buffer from the turnpike, however, remains to be seen.
"We're in wait and see mode. The proof is in the pudding," Pinkin said. "You never know for sure until it happens, but the turnpike people heard from residents that their needs are not being met, so hopefully they'll go back and readdress it."
Click here for information on contacting the New Jersey Turnpike Authority for a home inspection.