Taking a walk or riding your bike along the Garden State Parkway hasn't been a possibility since the toll road's inception — obviously, due to safety reasons. But that's changing with a project between Atlantic and Cape May counties.

A new span over Great Egg Harbor between Somers Point and Upper Township already features a 10-foot wide fenced-off pathway for non-automobile travelers. It won't be available for users until all construction is complete in 2019.

According to Jim Rutala, planning consultant for Somers Point, the project is seen by towns in the area as an improvement to quality of life, as well as an attraction for outsiders.

"Bikers look for opportunities where they can park their car and ride 30, 40 miles — take a day trip," Rutala said.

Rutala described Somers Point as a "hub of bicycle and pedestrian paths."

Great Egg Bridge walkway
Closed-off walkway leading to the under-construction bridge over Great Egg Habor (New Jersey Turnpike Authority)

He said there are plans at the base of the bridge for parking spaces in order to accommodate folks who want to use the parkway bridge pathway, and the Department of Transportation plans to make a connection between the bridge and existing bike lanes in Somers Point.

The goal is to give bikers a clear path from the bridge to the Route 52 causeway towards Ocean City, which also provides a path for non-drivers.

Phase two of a $193 million project from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority is rehabilitating the northbound span over Great Egg Harbor, originally erected in the 1970s. The first phase completed last summer, which will ultimately be used by only southbound travelers, is currently hosting traffic in both directions.

The original southbound span, constructed in the 50s, is in the process of being completely removed.

"A sidewalk was included in the construction of the new span at the request of local officials in Cape May and Atlantic counties," said Turnpike Authority spokesman Tom Feeney. "Because the span is currently carrying extra lanes of traffic, the sidewalk will remain closed until the rehab of the northbound span is complete."

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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