Why There Will Always be Construction on the Garden State Parkway
Fun Fact: The Garden State Parkway was built to be a toll free road. Fast forward to 2018 and we can laugh a bit at that notion. Can you imagine a toll free Parkway? What does this have to do with construction on the Parkway? Everything. The tolls and construction have a symbiotic relationship that will never, ever end.
I hate to be there bearer of bad news, but there will never come a day when you can drive on the Parkway without tolls or construction. Sorry. The Parkway was built back in 1947 and was built as a toll free road. In 1952 the New Jersey Highway Authority was established, which is when everything changed.
Problems with funding construction created the need for tolls. According to the Cape May County Herold at first people did not mind the tolls because, "...it represented an improvement in travel and it was generally understand that tolls would be removed once the original construction costs were paid, in the early 1970s." Highlight and underline "early 1970s" over 65 years later we still have those tolls.
The agreement was that as long as there was construction on the Parkway the New Jersey Highway Authority would be allowed to keep the tolls. Do you see where this is going?
According to State of New Jersey Executive Order #128 under Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco, "...it was widely understood by the public that tolls on the [GSP] would only be necessary until such time as the bonds financing the cost of the construction of the Parkway could be retired...there is no existing plan or timetable to either permanently retire the bonds of the Authority or to phase out tolls on the Parkway..."
This executive order was released back in 2001. As long as there is construction on the Parkway there will be tolls. As long as there are tolls on the Parkway there will be construction. The circle of the Parkway life.
New Jersey has the 6th most toll road mileage in the country with 356 miles of toll roads. Considering that New Jersey is by far the smallest size state in the top 11, that says a lot. 67.2% of transportation funding in New Jersey comes from the state, AKA tolls and taxes, which ranks us in at #5 in the country. 20% of all tolls are paid in the country are paid in New Jersey.
Next time you have to merge into one lane on the Parkway, just know that there will never come a time when you won't have to do that. Next time you drive through a toll plaza, just know there will never come a time when you won't have to do that.