The state Department of Transportation will make several improvements to intersections along the beleaguered Route 9 corridor in Lakewood and Toms River, though officials in the latter town are decrying the lack of work planned there.
The DOT is planning work on a 6.9-mile stretch of the overburdened highway, with about 2-miles worth of work in the Toms River portion – a perceived slight that has angered local officials. The work is not slated to begin until 2022, however.
The project will focus on improving traffic flow and pedestrian safety between Indian Head Road in Toms River and Hurley/Central Avenue in Lakewood. Toms River Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill said new turning lanes and signals will be added to the Whitty Road intersection, and a bypass lane and right-turn lane will be built at Church Road. The remainder of the work will be completed in Lakewood.
“I’m afraid if they don’t start this in the next year, they’re going to have to re-do the whole thing because it’s going to be falling apart. We’re already hemorrhaging on that road,” said Hill. “They’re doing a lot more intersection improvements in Lakewood than they are in Toms River.”
In the Lakewood portion of the project, some plots of land may need to be purchased in order to widen the road, create new lanes and build retention basins, state officials said at a recent presentation on the plan. The entire project is estimated to cost about $50 million, according to project manager David Hutchinson, an engineer with Arora Engineers, the state’s contractor for the project.
In Lakewood, Locust and Honey Locust streets will be widened at their intersection with Route 9, and left and right turns will be added. Chestnut Street will receive three lanes (left, straight and right) from both directions heading onto the highway, Chateau Drive will be realigned to have a better crossover into Broadway, with both streets gaining a left-turn lane.
Additionally, Oak Street will receive a new traffic signal, with Route 9 being widened to three lanes (including turning lanes) at the intersection. Dedicated left turn lanes will also be added at Spruce Street, and Pine Street will be realigned to flow into James Street.
The Hurley Avenue/Central Avenue intersection will be completely redesigned, with the southbound left turn lane from Route 9 being eliminated and the intersection as a whole shedding several turning lanes to improve traffic flow.
The project will also add a concrete island at First Street to prevent turns from any direction.
“I would suggest that they look into Clayton Avenue,” in Toms River, said Hill. “There is already a bypass for people wanting to get into the fire station.”
Hill also suggested the state consider installing turning lanes at the Riverwood Drive and Stevens Road intersections.
“These are all roads that intersect, and can give us flow onto Whitesville Road and alleviate the traffic on Route 9,” he said.