Move Ahead on ByPass Project
Even the few property owners who would lose their homes with the five year, $22 million proposed Mullica Hill bypass will concede the truth reflected in traffic volume and accident data that isolate the intersection of Routes 322 and 45 as possibly the worst vehicular experience in South Jersey.
So the arguments, at times fiery in the past several weeks, have focused appropriately on alternatives or modifications to address the indisputable central issue about which there is broad local, regional and state consensus: It is time to act.
Gloucester County government, to the credit of the freeholder board, has taken the initiative in the belief that local leadership is the best avenue to solution that will be most inclusive and most sensitive to local relationships.
In so doing, the freeholders have held several public community information meetings, have worked with Harrison Township’s planners and elected officials and have gone back to the drawing board to modify their initial plan based on what they have heard. In addition, the freeholders have partnered effectively with the state Department of Transportation to provide more than half the funding
Anyone who has absorbed the analysis of the professional traffic consultants hired by the county, the findings of an independent consulting firm hired by the township and the arguments presented in letters and conversations prompted by those most directly affected would conclude that the general routing of the bypass has had a fair hearing.
Yes, there could be always be more study and yes, there will no doubt be some obstacle or problem or detail that non one anticipated as the project unfolds.
But the data has been gathered, the projections have been made, the models have been built, alternatives have been examined and modifications have been included. It is time to move along.
What can and must be reasonably expected of government – to deal with measurable and foreseeable obstacles to public service in an environment of growth and development – has been asked and answered.
Moving ahead still requires the general public to acknowledge the disruption and loss that a project of this magnitude will cause, and to monitor progress to ensure as much fairness as possible.
Some people will lose their homes, and others will lose the friendships that define neighborhoods. Property values may change along with the changing traffic patterns.
There are, however, few better places in Gloucester County where government clearly has the authority and responsibility to deal with pressing issues of safety, commerce and mobility – now and into the foreseeable future – than the intersection of these roads. If the follow-through is as good as the preparation so far, the U.S. Route 322 improvement will be a successful project.