Two juveniles from Ocean County were charged Wednesday with starting the arson fire on the Garden State Parkway that shut down the highway in both directions for over ten hours.

The rush-hour fire on Wednesday, Jan 20 at Exit 91 in Brick broke out during afternoon rush hour and forced the closure of traffic in both directions snarling traffic.

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has just awarded two contracts totaling up to $3.5 million to repair the damage caused to the roadway and the drainage system by the fire.

During the investigation, detectives determined that the fire was started within a drainage culvert that runs underneath the Garden State Parkway from the 91 north entrance ramp to the 91 south exit ramp.

A State Police investigation found that the two juveniles allegedly started the fire. As a result of the investigation, detectives also discovered that the juveniles recently burglarized a building owned by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority adjacent to the Garden State Parkway 91 north commuter lot.

On January 25, the two juveniles were charged with arson, burglary, criminal mischief, interference with transportation, and defiant trespassing. They were released pending a future court date.

After starting the fire in the culvert, the suspects were seen running into a nearby apartment complex that sits next to the Parkway, state police said.

The fire broke out around 5 p.m. Wednesday; it was not until 7 a.m. Thursday that the roadway had fully reopened. Traffic backups of up to eight miles were reported.

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