Investigation into I-295/Route 42 wall collapse is nearly complete

(6abc)

(6abc)

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The investigation into what caused the collapse of a retaining wall that’s part of long-term roadwork in Camden County last March is nearly over. A draft report is expected to be complete in the next couple of weeks.

The “I-295 Direct Connect” project is designed to allow Interstate 295 to flow freely without using ramps connected to the Route 42 freeway. Currently, drivers who want to continue on I-295, will have to join Route 42 before rejoining I-295.

Many drivers have colloquially called the interchange “a headache,” to be nice about it. The New Jersey Department of Transportation called it one of the most congested roadways in the state, adding it had a high rate of car crashes.

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The project, which has been underway since 2013, already had its completion date pushed back due to unforeseen issues with acquiring rights-of-way. With the retaining wall collapse, the expected completion date is now set for 2028.

Once written, the draft report will go through a legal review.

Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said the area where the collapse occurred was “a fairly wet area anyway” but added there was an “extraordinary amount of water” at the time of collapse.

“With the addition of the significant rains that occurred in and around the time of the collapse, and the water table that was already there, it caused [the wall] to shift,” she said, adding the department is in a “good position” to rebuild the wall so it would not be affected by future heavy rains.

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Even though the investigation is in the final stages, there is enough information to begin designing a new wall, which is currently underway.

“When we finalize that and have the plans in place, then the balance of the old wall will be demolished to make room for the construction of the new one,” she added.

The other project in the area, known as “Missing Moves” has not been impacted by the wall collapse. “Missing Moves” will provide the ramp connections between Route 42 and I-295.

Gutierrez-Scaccetti said the department hopes the design will be completed by the end of the first quarter in 2022, with construction beginning after plans are approved. It has not yet been determined whether the state or the construction company will pay for the new wall.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated that the “Missing Moves” project was impacted by the wall collapse.

Update: This story has been updated to reflect that it is unclear who will pay for the project.

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