Route 55: An Ecological Quagmire

A look at some of the environmental and engineering concerns related to New Jersey’s most controversial highway project.

This paper examines how the expansion of the Route 55 freeway in southern New Jersey has been a source of controversy in terms of the environment, due to wetlands, urban sprawl, pollution, and degradation. It discusses how opponents of the project cite environmental concerns, whereas others say that there could also be many environmental concerns with not building the roadway. It looks at both sides of the story and how those that built the original portion could not foresee the quagmire that would result from it.
When the freeway was completed, it was 20 miles short of its intended goal; the highway ended at a surface route northwest of the intended terminus at Route 9 in Cape May Court House. In 1975, an environmental assessment was done on the missing link and it was determined that not only would it encroach on wetlands regions and forests, but it would take 20 years to complete and would cost more that the existing section of the freeway alone; needless to say, this project was subsequently abandoned. However, in 2001, the project was revived by governor Donald DiFrancesco, who supported a $500 million plan to construct the missing link, and in 2003, the state passed a resolution allowing the project to get underway amidst much controversy (Anderson 3-4).