The Route 55 project was first proposed in the 1950’s as a toll road to be called the Cape May Expressway, extending from the Walt Whitman Bridge to Cape May. In 1962, the New Jersey Expressway Authority was created to build both this road and the Atlantic City Expressway. By 1965, the Cape May Expressway was turned over to the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and renamed New Jersey Route 55.
The road was built in sections and by 1989 it had extended from route 42 in Deptford to Port Elizabeth in Cumberland County. But progress on the final piece, a 20-mile section meant to provide access to the Cape May Peninsula, has been brought to a standstill for more than thirty years.
The last feasibility study was published by NJDOT in 1993, the Shore Connection Committee Report was prepared in 1998 and the project languished from that point on. It became a political rallying cry from time to time, but was pushed aside by powerful environmental interests according to statements by our elected officials.
The government entity responsible for highway projects in Cape May County, the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO), has no mention of route 55 in their current Transportation Improvement Project (TIP) list, even though a 2017 SJTPO Purpose and Need Statement Summary Report clearly demonstrated the need for Rt 55 completion.
The Cape May County Board of Commissioners issued a resolution in 2021 endorsing Rt 55 completion and calling on the State to move forward on it. Our State Senator Michael Testa sent a detailed letter to State DoT Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti in April this year requesting the highway be included in the department’s Transportation Capital Program.
Cape Issues thinks Rt 55 completion is needed for several reasons; safety in day to day traffic operations, safety in emergency response and evacuation events, congestion reduction for our tourists and second homeowners and preparation for the threat of sea level rise. We also think mitigation of the environmental concerns can be accomplished by a balanced approached and proper project design.
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