West Trenton, NJ – Governor Chris Christie this morning announced additional measures being taken to prepare for Hurricane Irene and aid New Jerseyans in shore evacuations. Beginning at 6:00 p.m. this evening, contraflow will be in effect on Route 72, running for 28 miles to Route 70, closing all lanes to eastbound travel and utilizing all lanes of traffic for use in moving traffic westward. The measure is the latest action to aid residents in evacuating Long Beach Island in Ocean County.
In addition, Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) offices in Atlantic, Cumberland, Monmouth, Ocean and Salem counties will close beginning at 4:00 p.m. today until further notice. To aid New Jerseyans whose licenses will expire at the end of the month, the MVC will also provide an extension until September 10th for renewals on expired drivers licenses, identification cards, vehicle registrations and inspections effective September 1. Authorization was previously provided for MVC office closures in Cape May county.
Governor Christie has called on people to leave voluntarily and, in order to support coastal evacuations, has authorized several measures that will make evacuation easier.
Yesterday, the Governor ordered a temporary suspension of tolls on all parts of the Garden State Parkway south of the Raritan River and the Atlantic City Expressway beginning at 8:00 a.m. this morning. Governor Christie also announced that Routes 47 and 347 in Cape May County will be closed to eastbound traffic and that the use of all lanes of traffic will move westward beginning Friday evening at 6:00 pm. As part of this process, all ramps will be tightly controlled and additional personnel will be used to ensure safety.
The announcement reiterates the Governor’s strong call from yesterday, urging all residents and visitors to the New Jersey barrier islands and shore areas to leave for safer locations. Following a briefing at the Regional Operations Intelligence Center, Governor Christie signed a Declaration of a State of Emergency for New Jersey and called on people already at the shore to begin to leave immediately and advised anyone who has shore rentals or was planning to go to the shore this weekend not to go. It is important residents and visitors heed the advice and direction being given by the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM). In order to conduct an orderly evacuation of the coastline and barrier islands, residents and visitors should begin evacuating today if they have not already done so.
The state OEM is continuing to coordinate with every county as they mobilize preparations at the county and local level. Any request for assistance must come through from the local to the county up through the state OEM in order to ensure there is a real-time, coordinate response.
For further information about safety precautions, evacuation routes and best practices please go to ready.nj.gov.