The year 2017 is when New Jersey ramped things up, no pun intended, for interstate and intrastate travelers alike. Additionally, Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti was named NJDOT’s Commissioner by newly elected Gov. Phil Murphy — so the region’s Owner of the Year has a compelling immediate future as well.

First consider the big-bucks projects. Both the $480 million Wittpenn Bridge replacement and the $920 million I-295/State Route 42/I-76 intersection began new phases, which along with other infrastructure repairs made for more than $500 million in new construction by NJDOT.

The  295-76-42 link is also called “Direct Connection” and will straighten out I-295 through the area. Last year, Contract 3 was awarded to contractor South State Inc. with a bid of $192.2 million. Scope of work under that contract focuses on completing the I-295 mainline Direct Connection ramp over Route 42/I-76. It also includes work on an adjacent road overpass and ramps to Route 42. “At the end of Contract 3, anticipated in 2021, I-295 southbound will be partially opened in the new configuration,” John McCleary, NJDOT Direct Connection project manager, told ENR.

The Wittpenn Bridge’s orthotropic deck is the first to be built in New Jersey. I’s a 100% steel superstructure with a thin steel plate that has a series of longitudinal “ribs” underneath, prefabricated in a shop for faster construction and higher quality control. The new deck regaled infrastructure and construction fanatics last summer when a special tracker on NJDOT’s website showed it progressing by barge, in real time, from Washington State to New Jersey via the Panama Canal. Contract 4 for the bridge was awarded in June 2017.

Gutierrez-Scaccetti was previously the executive director of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and a co-chair of Murphy’s transportation and infrastructure transition team, ENR reported.

ENR New York will have more information about NJDOT's infrastructure construction efforts in its March 19-26, 2018, print edition.