Governor Christie announced at a press conference Friday that southbound traffic below Exit 98 in Wall will be closed at 8 p.m. today, saying it was time for residents to prepare for Hurricane Irene.
The governor also said Routes 47 and 347 in Cape May will be closed to eastbound traffic beginning at 6 p.m. The Atlantic City Expressway also will be closed to eastbound traffic, also beginning at 6 p.m., Christie said.
Earlier, Christie announced that beginning at 6 p.m. all lanes of Route 72 to Route 70 will be closed to eastbound traffic, using all lanes to lead away from the ocean. The measure is to aid evacuation of Long Beach Island in Ocean County.
Beginning Saturday at 12 p.m., New Jersey Transit will be shuttered, Christie said.
"Let me say this to the people in Cape May, Atlantic and Ocean Counties: If you are on the barrier islands, it is time to get out. This is not like anything you've ever seen. You stay there at risk to your own life,'' he said.
Christie did not announce any mandatory evacuations, saying he would make that decision later today. He hinted there may be evacuations in Monmouth County, saying there would be an update on the county later "where we may have to start moving people out.''
No time was set during that conference.
Christie stressed the seriousness of Hurricane Irene, calling it a major statewide event.
"This is not just a possibility,'' Christie said. "It is an overwhelming probability. This is not going to be just a coastal incident. This is an incident that will be statewide for us.''
Christie strongly urged residents to take advantage of the mild weather and sunshine today to prepare for the stom, which is expected to hit the Jersey Shore overnight Saturday and into Sunday.
"You need to use today to prepare,'' Christie said. "Today is not the day to go to dinner in Atlantic City.''
Christie also said the state was working to designate areas for residents who evacuate to drop off their pets, but he gave no details on a solid plan.
The Motor Vehicle Commission offices in Atlantic, Cumberland, Monmouth, Ocean and Salem counties will close at 4 p.m. today until further notice, Christie said.
To aid drivers whose licenses expire at the end of the month, the MVC will also provide an extension until Sept. 10th for renewals on expired drivers licenses, identification cards, vehicle registrations and inspections effective Sept. 1. Authorization was previously provided for MVC office closures in Cape May county, Christie said.