Two juveniles from Ocean County have been arrested and charged in the fire that caused extensive damage to the Garden State Parkway and stranded motorists for about 10 hours.

Charges against two juveniles, whose identities were not disclosed due to age, were announced a day after $3.5 million in emergency repair work was approved by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority Board of Commissioners.

Fire damaged culvert under the Garden State Parkway at Exit 91 in Brick; fire in the culvert
Fire damaged culvert under the Garden State Parkway at Exit 91 in Brick; fire in the culvert (OCSN)

On Jan. 19, State Police responded around 5 p.m. to the report of a fire in the area of milepost 91 in Brick Township.

Troopers found that flames had been started within a drainage culvert underneath the Parkway, from the 91 north entrance ramp to the 91 south exit ramp.

Traffic was shut down until early the next morning on the highway, between Wall Township and Lakewood.

Parkway gridlock during fire (
Parkway gridlock during fire (

During the investigation, detectives found the same youths had also burglarized a building owned by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, next to the Parkway 91 north commuter lot.

As of Wednesday, both minors were charged with arson, burglary, criminal mischief, interference with transportation, and defiant trespassing.

They were released, pending a future court date. The case is being prosecuted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.

$3.5 Million in emergency repairs

The fire destroyed the liner inside a 66-inch reinforced concrete culvert pipe for a length of about 300 feet, according to the NJTA Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday.

Portions of the original culvert surface also were "significantly damaged," as were a connecting stormwater drainage system and treatment devices.

The emergency contracts awarded by the NJTA involve $3 million to Hackensack-based Joseph M. Sanzari, Inc. and $500,000 to Mount Laurel-based McCormick Taylor, Inc.

Sanzari will clear and clean the culvert of debris and order a replacement liner.

McCormick Taylor then will do a complete inspection and assessment of the culvert and connecting drainage system.

Repairs will be designed and carried out by Sanzari, as the work will be “supervised using an on-call consultant,” according to the NJTA board agenda from Tuesday.

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