By Mike DeNardo

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) — The holiday ritual of driving back from the Jersey shore may be a little smoother, thanks to a widening project on the Atlantic City Expressway.

A third westbound lane is now open on the AC Expressway between Hammonton and Winslow, just in time for homebound Memorial Day drivers, including Joe Hughes of Glenside.

“The past couple of years, it’s been tough,” Hughes said. “It bottlenecks, and it’s tough to get through there.”

But Hughes expects to “fly right home” with the opening of the third lane.

That was not the case, however, for Rita Hannan of Haddonfield, New Jersey, who found conditions along the Garden State Parkway “terrible.”

“We thought we were beating it by leaving this morning, but absolutely terrible,” Hannan said. “As we said, the vacation’s definitely over the minute we got in the car. It’s too bad, but we’re in a different mode altogether now.”

Greg Pesot of Malvern was headed back from the shore, and he’s seen plenty of homebound backups over the years. He’s hoping the new third lane will help to ease congestion. But if not…

“I can’t stand traffic,” he said. “I’ll get off the highway and take the back roads, even if it adds an extra hour to my trip. As long as I’m moving.”

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