MIDDLETOWN — It was originally promised as part of a major construction project at Exit 109 of the Garden State Parkway, but the replacement of four "functionally obsolete" Parkway bridges will not occur in 2018.

According to Tom Feeney, spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, there is not enough funding available in the 10-year $7 billion capital program to cover the multi-million dollar project. The capital program ends in 2018.

Congestion improvements in the area of the interchange, which can be a traffic nightmare for motorists during peak travel periods, will still occur as planned.

Feeney said it's anticipated a construction contract will be awarded in the spring of 2018 for work to begin on and around Newman Springs Road.

The Turnpike Authority plans to schedule a public hearing for January to explain the exact scope of the project.

An existing eastbound jughandle, which tends to interfere with traffic exiting northbound Parkway traffic, will be eliminated, Feeney said. The project also calls for construction of an eastbound entrance loop ramp and bridge over the busy road.

The project should take about a year to complete, rather than two years, as was projected when work on the Parkway itself was in the plans.

"We're getting towards the end of the capital program and the funds weren't available to do the full project," Feeney explained.

The 10-year capital program — funded by a toll increase approved in 2008 — has been the funding source for widening of portions of the Turnpike and Parkway, and several interchange and bridge improvements.

Feeney said the Exit 109 bridge work is "not being eliminated" from future plans; it will be part of another phase down the line.

Middletown Township Administrator Tony Mercantante said the township has not been informed by the Turnpike Authority of any scale backs with the project, so he could not offer comment.

"We're looking forward to hearing from them," Mercantante said.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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