See Route 9 improvement recommendations Tuesday in Toms River
Last year, you told the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority how you think Route 9 traffic in Toms River and Lakewood can stop being a daily conga line. This Tuesday, August 23, NJTPA returns, with recommendations aimed at mixing those ideas into an expedient, affordable plan.
You can see the maps and displays, ask questions and even offer more suggestions in the Ocean County Library's Mancini Hall, 2 to 4 PM and 5 until 8 PM. NJTPA staffers will conduct presentations at 2, 5:30 and 7 PM.
The Lakewood portion will be displayed at a date and time yet to be determined, at the Lakewood Municipal Building.
See the proposals online here. Your feedback will be entered into a report to be issued near the end of 2016. If circumstances prevent you from seeing and commenting first-hand, e-mail Route9Study@NJTPA.org.
The project, says NJTPA's David Behrend, focuses largely on future development along the corridor, titled the Access Management Plan.
"It's a formal document," he explains. "When development is occurring along the highway, [it anticipates] where the entrances and exits for access on and off the highway are."
It covers issues that you already know well, such as adjoining strip malls with no mutual access points except to return to the highway and quickly turn off it again.
Zoning and planning boards, Behrend added, will be relied on to adopt and refer to the Access Management Plan when considering development applications that have potential impacts on the Route 9 traffic flow.
The mantra in Ocean County for decades has been "widen it," especially south of Route 88 where it becomes, essentially, a two-lane blacktop all the way to Cape May.
The astronomical expense of buying adjoining property was an obstacle, even when the Transportation Trust fund had money in it. But Behrend notes that many of the short-term improvements can be accomplished within the boundaries as they are.
"Some new left-turn lanes, that can be done without having to overhaul entire intersections...adding sidewalks in certain areas, obviously a safety issue for pedestrians...modernizing traffic signals, possibly adding a light or two," all have a place in the plans, Behrend said.
More specifically, the Route 9 Corridor study recommends:
- Dedicated left-turn lane from the northbound side to West Whitty Road, and individual right and left turn lanes on Whitty
- Dedicated left from the southbound side, and a dedicated right from the northbound side, at Church Road.
- Traffic signal at the Stevens Road intersection, and one bus stop midway between Stevens and Church, instead of the current dual bus stations.
- Dedicated left from the northbound side to Locust Street, a two-way left turn lane starting at Locust, and right turn lanes on Locust for Route 9, from both sides.
- Bus stops on either side of the highway at Conifer Street.
In Lakewood, they include:
- Dedicated left from Cross Street to the northbound side, and a dedicated left turn from Chestnut Street to the southbound side.
- Reconfiguration of the intersection at Chateau-Broadway, with a signal and a bus stop, and a signal at Oak Street.
The plan would also introduce left-turn lanes, accessible from either side of the highway, for entry to businesses, allowing through traffic to keep flowing.
Given that it's in study phase, with nothing to be launched immediately, Behrend added, NJTPA is optimistic that a workable method of refilling the Transportation Trust Fund will be in place before money is needed. But it isn't the only financial resource.
"The NJTPA oversees federal funding," Behrend noted. "We'll look for spots in which federal funds can work. But a solvent Transportation Trust Fund helps us maximize our federal dollars, too."