Harvey Cedars residents and Borough Officials will be arriving en mass to the Ocean County freeholder meeting on Wednesday to petition for safety changes to the stretch of Long Beach Boulevard that runs through their community.

Residents have been clamoring to reduce the four lane road down to three lanes, with one lane going in either direction plus an additional turning lane. Additionally, they want wider shoulders to accommodate bikers, pedestrians, and emergency vehicles. Harvey Cedars Taxpayer Association President Phil Kunz says the four lane road currently causes problems for pedestrians and drivers, especially when a car stops in the left lane to let a pedestrian go by, and the car behind it assume they are turning and goes around them without looking.

“On a regular basis, every day, you can just drive through Harvey Cedars and see near misses of that sort.”

Kunz explains an engineering study was commissioned by the County and done by the Stantec Consulting Services Inc. The study looked at traffic at peak times during the summer season, accounting for beach traffic and rental move-in days, and concluded a three lane system would not significantly affect the flow of traffic all the while improving safety within the 1.8 mile stretch of road.

“This is called a ‘road diet’ and this is something most traffic engineers and civil engineers and municipality engineers are utilizing to improve existing roads.”

Though the road was originally expanded at the behest of taxpayers some twenty years ago, Kunz points out the infrastructure should evolve with its role in society.

“Right now we’re a different society, we exercise a lot we know the value of getting outside and being part of the community, and our roads are no longer dedicated to just vehicles.”

Proponents of the change will be at the freeholder meeting asking for project, even without the support of the mayors of neighboring Long Beach Township and Barnegat Light.

“Because Mayor Joe Mancini [of Long Beach Township] and Mayor Kirk Larson of Barnegat Light, do not want it.” Says Kunz, pointing out a similar road setup has been employed on other parts of the island with great success.

“This configuration is not unique in any way. It’s been utilized in the busiest part of Beach Haven and it seems to transition to that section very fine.”

The Taxpayer Association has been leading an education campaign about the benefits of the road project, speaking to borough officials, Harvey Cedars residents, and even residents of neighboring communities. He notes the responses have been largely positive.

“We have people from Loveladies saying ‘we’re all for it’ because they say ‘we ride our bikes or jog and when we hit Harvey Cedars, we turn around.’”

The freeholder meeting will take place Wednesday August 7th at 101 Hooper Avenue in Toms River at 4pm. The Taxpayer Association is providing a free bus to any residents who wish to attend.