There’s something about the Garden State Parkway that makes it special.

And no, it’s not the Cheesquake Service Area men’s room.

Back when the Garden State Parkway was built, it was considered one of the most beautiful and scenic parkways in the country.

Nice foliage, nicely maintained area around it, all that!

But now part of it will be lost.

Trees will be sacrificed to make way for wider shoulders in the area between exits 100 and 88.

Safety should trees anytime.

But as you’d imagine, some are decrying the loss of the trees.

You may be one of them.

Does it bother you that the Parkway will be losing some of what makes it special, namely the trees?

According to this:
Garden State Parkway drivers traveling between Wall and Toms River may feel like they're living the lyric from the old Joni Mitchell song — “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

In this case, “paradise” is 120 acres of forest-like median that has been largely defoliated and the “parking lot” is a $330 million project to return full-sized shoulders, wider lanes and to replace or redeck bridges between milepost 83 and 100, which officials said will make the Parkway safer.

For some drivers, the massive tree cutting on the 16-mile section of Parkway came as a surprise. Others questioned if that section of Parkway will take on the urban characteristics of the highway’s grittier sister, the New Jersey Turnpike.

Terry Siana O'Connell of Toms River, for one, said the last time she saw trees cut down and stacked like that, she could “almost hear the trees screaming.”
“It was such a shock to me. I’ve been driving the Parkway for 50 years ... It was always beautiful,” she said. “About a day or two afterward, I was going to Manasquan (with friends) and I said I can’t take the Parkway because it feels so foreign to me.”

But officials of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which runs the toll road, said it was always their intention to use the median to restore missing and undersized shoulders.

The reason? The simple answer is that safety trumps trees on a stretch of highway which had six fatal crashes in the past two years, said Veronique Hakim, Turnpike Authority director.

“It is an area with fatals. People are running off the road and there was no clear zone for people to recover (if they lost control of their vehicle),” she said.

I’m with them!

People drive like maniacs on the Parkway, and in lieu of enhanced police patrols, widening the Parkway to give it more shoulder room should make it that much safer.

I said, “should” make it that much safer.

But it won’t be a parkway in the stricter sense anymore.

Just another Jersey highway.

Does it bother you that trees are being cut down on the Parkway to make room for wider shoulders?