Developers pitching a plan to build a Wawa and adjacent quick-serve restaurant along Route 70 told members of the Brick Township Board of Adjustment Wednesday night that they would undertake the costly measure of adding a third lane to the highway in order to make the site safer to access.
Before a room packed with neighboring residents who are opposing the project, John Jackson, attorney for Brick 70 Developers LLC, the company behind the proposal, said his client would extend a third lane of the highway that currently ends after the Costco shopping center northward to Duquesne Boulevard.
“This will go a long way to alleviate the traffic issues on Route 70,” Jackson said.
The project consists of a Wawa store with a gas station and a quick-serve restaurant, such as a Panera Bread, with a drive-through. It is proposed to be constructed north of a medical office building, near the intersection of Route 70 and Duquesne Boulevard, with an access point at North Lake Shore Drive.
John Ray, a traffic engineer hired by the developer, testified that the third lane would not only make it safer to access the proposed shopping plaza, but easier and more convenient for residents to turn onto Duquesne, since they no longer would be tempted to take the dangerous option of riding in the shoulder during times of high traffic.
“We’re going to make it legal to get into that curb lane, use that lane, and quite frankly I think it will be easier for people to make the right onto Duquesne,” Ray said. “You will now be legally able to use the lane instead of illegally using the shoulder.”
Neighboring residents have been circulating a petition against the proposal over concerns of increased traffic, noise and the project’s potential effect on property values, as well as environmental issues.
Board Chairman Harvey Langer questioned the developer’s experts on the amount of noise the drive-in window would generate, with customers and employees communicating with each other through a speaker system.
“When the speaker isn’t working properly and it comes out loud and garbled – that will be more annoying when it’s loud and people can understand it,” Langer said.
A engineer working on the project said the site would be equipped with a six foot high sound wall and a thick row of shrubs and trees to prevent noise intrusion into the adjacent neighborhood. The drive through lane would be located off Lake Shore Drive, behind the restaurant, with a tree buffer nearly encircling it, plus the sound wall, which would be made of cedar wood, sound absorption materials and sealant.
Wednesday night’s hearing also shed more light on the entrances and exits of the development. An entrance and exit with a concrete curb separator would lead to and from Route 70, which a side entrance would be available from Lake Shore Drive, near its intersection with Duquesne. Another entrance and egress on the south side would connect the development to the medical building next door and, ultimately, the Costco plaza. A parking area off Lake Shore Drive, shown on a rendering of the project, would not be built initially but would be held for later consideration if demand necessitated it, representatives said.
No residents were able to speak Wednesday night since the presentation by the applicant was not completed by the end of the meeting at 10 p.m. Testimony will continue at the Feb. 22 board meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. at the township municipal complex. Members of the public will have an opportunity to testify on, and ask questions about, the project if the applicant’s testimony is completed.
Jackson said the developer has already held discussions with the state Department of Transportation to on the process of creating the third lane.