The Turnpike Authority's chief engineer, Rich Raczynski, says the project is two-thirds complete and on target to be finished by fall 2014.
explained it, instead of seeking permits, acquiring land, and awarding contracts in stages, authority officials moved to do all three simultaneously.
So, when everything was ready in a designated zone, work would begin immediately.
"We picked up maybe two years on this project," Raczynski
"We wanted to accelerate this project."
A fourth factor in play - moving three gas and oil pipelines that run parallel to the turnpike - also fell into place in a timely fashion.
"The (utility) companies did an extremely efficient job relocating the pipelines," Raczynski
Actual planning for the project dates to 2004, and Raczynski
said the intervening financial crisis had worked in the authority's favor.
"The economic collapse helped us," he
"The heavy-construction industry in the state of New Jersey basically dried up, and we were the only ones pushing work out at the time.
"When you get contractors who are desperate for work, they really sharpen their pencils," Raczynski
For his part, Raczynski, the chief engineer, is not buying predictions that adding lanes will not reduce congestion.
Some transportation experts have raised that scenario based on a highway engineering phenomenon known as "induced demand," the tendency for new lanes to attract new drivers.
Human nature and traffic science make it inevitable, the experts have said.
said the existing turnpike congestion had forced traffic onto local roads, causing backups and increasing pollution.
expects the expansion to draw that traffic back to the turnpike, increasing the number of vehicles on it.
added, "with the improvements we're making, we'll be able to move that traffic."