By David Madden

MULLICA HILL, N.J. (CBS) — Gloucester County officials today cut the ribbon on a new stretch of road that many vowed would never be built.

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The Route 322 bypass around Mullica Hill is expected to ease traffic congestion in the town, and a whole lot more.

If you cross the Commodore Barry Bridge and take Route 322 down to Route 55 on your way “down the shore,” you know how bad the Mullica Hill backups could be.  The little town where three major roads meet has been a traffic nightmare at rush hour and on summer weekends for decades.

(Credit: David Madden)

New Jersey state senate president Steve Sweeney (right), during his days as a Gloucester County freeholder, came up with the bypass idea.

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“I figured, ‘Man, this has been a problem for 40 years —  we’re gonna be heroes!’  Boy, did we get the crap kicked out of us,” he recalled with a laugh.

But Sweeney and fellow supporters pressed on, and eventually many of the locals came around.

Crews brought this $16-million project in on time and on budget.

It’s hoped that many small businesses that left Mullica Hill because of the traffic congestion might come back now.  And the town that had threatened to throw Sweeney out of office when he was a freeholder now wants to name the bypass in his honor.

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