Burlington County is launching a $10 million road project to prepare for an anticipated increase in truck traffic when Amazon opens a 1 million square foot distribution center in the area this year.
Burlington County Freeholder Director Kate Gibbs announced Wednesday that the county will make a series of improvements along the busy northern Route 130 corridor, adding lanes to surrounding roads and reconstructing jughandles in the vicinity of the Amazon center, being built in Burlington Township and Burlington City.
The 50-acre site was formerly home to U.S. Pipe & Foundry, which closed more than a dozen years ago.
County officials say that area is already clogged with truck traffic because more than 12 million square feet of warehouses and industrial parks have sprouted in Florence, Burlington and Mansfield Townships in recent years, bringing with them more than 6,000 employees.
"While we are thrilled by the region's job growth and its positive impact on our property tax base, there is a downside,… Infrastructure improvements have lagged behind development, causing unnecessary traffic headaches," Gibbs said.
She said Amazon has agreed to stagger its employees' shifts so workers will not be arriving or departing at peak commuter times. The company is also considering shuttle service for its employees from an off-site location. Carpooling incentives will also be considered, Gibbs said.
Amazon.com Inc. spokeswoman Rachael Lighty has said the facility will create 600 full-time jobs. She could not be reached for comment on those initiatives.
Among with the highway project, the county is planning improvements to the intersection of Route 130 and Florence-Columbus Road, which leads to I-295, Gibbs said.
Initially, the project will be funded by the Burlington County Bridge Commission, which will contribute $10 million. The commission expects to be reimbursed by the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund.
"The traffic is already a nuisance, and we know Amazon is coming," said Jason Tosches, the county's spokesperson. "We know our residents can't take more traffic, so we want to put this in place."
Burlington Township planning officials required Amazon to restrict truck traffic to routes along the Delaware River, away from residential areas, as part of the permitting process.