The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) today announced upcoming traffic pattern changes as part of an on-going concrete roadway rehabilitation project on a section of I-78 in Newark, Essex County.

On Friday night, March 19, motorists will encounter new traffic patterns on a 2.2-mile section of I-78 westbound, from the New Jersey Turnpike Toll Plaza 14 to the Route 21/McCarter Highway interchange.

Motorists will have access to four travel lanes instead of five. The express lanes in this stretch will be reduced from two lanes to one, with three existing local lanes remaining open. An additional local lane will be created in areas where only two local lanes normally exist.

NJDOT is encouraging motorists to follow signs, including overhead Variable Message Signs, to the local lanes as they enter I-78 westbound from the Turnpike Toll Plaza. Motorists will be able to shift back to the express lanes via a new crossover at the end of the work zone. The ramp from Route 1&9 South to I-78 Express will be closed, with all traffic from Route 1&9 South directed to the local lanes.

This new traffic pattern will remain in effect for several months while construction crews replace a center median, reconstruct the express lanes and make drainage system improvements.

New traffic patterns for I-78 eastbound motorists were implemented in January, when express lanes were reduced from two lanes to one. A crossover ramp that had been providing access to the express lanes at Exit 56 was closed to accommodate construction activity. All eastbound local lanes in the work zone will provide local access and through service. An extra lane was added to the local traffic lanes to increase capacity from Exit 57 to end of the work zone. This new traffic pattern will remain in effect through the spring.

Eastbound I-78 motorists are being provided with up-to-the-minute travel information via Variable Message Signs that indicate whether local or express lanes offer the quickest trip to the Turnpike. The signs have been positioned prior to major decision points along I-78 eastbound at Berkeley Heights, near the Garden State Parkway and along Route 24 in Millburn.

The traffic pattern changes in this segment of I-78 accommodate one of four rehabilitation projects along the interstate highway, stretching from Springfield (milepost 50.5) to Newark (milepost 58). This $17.5 million project in Newark is being funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Estimated project completion is late 2010.

Motorists are encouraged to exercise caution and follow any reduced speed signs in the construction zone. All work is weather dependent.

Real-time traffic information and construction activity updates are available online at www.511nj.org or by calling 511.