WATCHUNG — Route 78 commuters had their own "summer of hell" Friday morning when a late-running paving project closed two lanes.

Interstate 78 sign
Interstate 78 sign (Google Street View)

During the project, which should have been picked up by 6 a.m., only one lane was available on the eastbound side starting at Exit 41 for Deepdale Drive. All lanes were reopened by 7:45 a.m., according to New Jersey Fast Traffic.

New Jersey Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Israel said the asphalt plant, a large truck that mixes the asphalt on the job, broke down.

"Because the road was milled already we didn't want drivers on a major, high speed interstate driving on milled, unpaved road.. We had to wait to get the plant back online so we could pour the asphalt," Israel said.

He did not know if the contractor is penalized as a result of the breakdown.

Drivers trying to avoid the 60-minute delay created delays on Route 22 through Scotch Plains.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation started a milling and paving project on July 10 in the area. The first phase of the project was eastbound, starting at Exit 41 and continuing to the Shunpike Road overpass in Springfield. The DOT did not release specific dates for each phase.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

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