The Ocean County Freeholders will be awarding a contract for the construction of the new southern Ocean County park-n-ride facility at interchange 58 of the Garden State Parkway.

The Board of Freeholders is expected to award a contract to Mathis Construction Co. Inc., Little Egg Harbor Township, in the amount of $421,212.00 during its December 5 meeting.

John Ernst, Ocean County Engineer, recommended the awarding of the contract to the Board during its Nov. 28 pre-board meeting.

The County anticipates reimbursement for the project from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

Work is expected to begin in the spring and will include 49-paved parking stalls, an internal bus loading and unloading area and will be provided in anticipation of future bus service in that location.

Ocean County expects to be reimbursed for the cost of designing the facility, securing all the permits and ultimately constructing it under an agreement with the Turnpike Authority.

The project also includes stormwater upgrades and a lighting system that will be substantially maintenance free.

"We have been working on this for some time and I am pleased that we are now ready to award a contract and get the work under way," Ocean County Freeholder John Kelly, liaison to the Ocean County Engineering Department and who serves as Director of Law and Public Safety, said. "This new Park-N-Ride will provide a designated paved and illuminated parking area which will bring major improvements for safety and convenience for commuters in the southern area of the County especially Little Egg Harbor Township and around the Route 539 corridor."

Kelly says that in addition to enhancing safety in the area, he expects it will assist in promoting carpooling.

"There has been a demonstrated need in this area for a park and ride for a long time," Kelly said. "This will be tremendously safer for people to leave their cars there and out of harm's way.

"Ocean County is a commuter county," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Gerry Little. "The County has been working in partnership with the state's 9th Legislative District leaders and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to advance this project. We are very pleased that it's moving forward."

It's been more than six years since Little Egg Harbor fought off a trash-transfer station in favor of a Park-N-Ride, and last February NJ Transit officials said shovels would break ground for it off Exit 58 on the Garden State Parkway.

That didn't happen.

The EPA and Wetlands Commission were reportedly on board with the idea to build this Park-N-Ride at the time.

Craig Versheck, a longtime Little Egg resident and community activist who serves as Vice-Chairman of the Ocean County Transportation Advisory Board told WOBM News in February of 2017 that currently there's no safe lighted area for people to park in that part of the county, so this is Park-N-Ride is a real necessity for residents.

Versheck said he's seen people parking in a number of unsafe areas in Little Egg Harbor and other parts of Southern Ocean County, so plans for this Park-N-Ride were discussed with NJ Transit.

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