Funding has been secured to widen and improve a traffic-plagued section of Route 66 in Neptune.

Congressman Chris Smith on the House floor
Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) on the House Floor (CSPAN File Photo)

Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) led the effort to arrange $12 million in federal funds, which means the neither the state nor the municipality will bear the financial burden. He says it all started more than a year ago.

"On July 4th last year, after FEMA had rejected rebuilding the boardwalk for Ocean Grove, Dr. (Michael) Brantley, who was the Neptune mayor at the time, now he's a Committeeman, asked me if I would help them and work on trying to expand a 1.2 mile stretch on Route 66, which is an absolute bottleneck," Smith said.

Smith says his proposal stressed the roadway's importance as a storm evacuation route, as well as its high rate of traffic accidents. He believes widening the roadway will improve both situations immensely.

The planning and design stages are expected to take until 2018, with construction slated to begin in 2019.  Smith says the process should be fairly painless.

"It won't be that hard to expand it," Smith said. "There's a few right-of-ways that have to be done and a few problems, but not a whole lot."

A public meeting is being scheduled for November to outline the project and get feedback from residents and business leaders.

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