BERKELEY – A busy intersection will eventually have a traffic light for the first time, but drivers will have to wait at least 18 months for its installation.
When you cross Route 9 to head toward Ocean Gate, there’s a tricky spot. Veeder Lane and Mill Creek Road meet at Ocean Gate Drive. Mill Creek and Veeder have stop signs. Cars approaching the stop signs have to slowly inch out to make sure they don’t get clipped by others. Smart drivers slow down when approaching, even if there’s no stop sign on their side.
There are a lot of busy sections of town back here. This includes the H&M Potter School, Berkeley Shores, the new Berkeley Crossings, a back way to the ShopRite, and pretty much everyone in Ocean Gate.
The county engineering department has analyzed the area and decided that it justifies having a traffic signal there.
Three of the four roads leading to the intersection are county roads. Mill Creek Road is County Route #2, Veeder Lane is County Route #4 and Ocean Gate Drive to the northeast of the intersection is County Route #21. However, the short section of Ocean Gate Drive from Veeder to Route 9 is under state jurisdiction.
That means that the New Jersey Department of Transportation had to agree to this project, a representative from the Ocean County Engineering Department said.
It’s close to Route 9, a road that already has issues, and the state tries to manage local changes that would impact it even more. Fortunately, the state has concurred that the signal is warranted.
The project is still in the design stages, they said. The expectation is that it could go to bid in late 2023. Since the design has to be approved by the DOT, the county might be held to DOT’s timetable.
Since the design hasn’t been finalized yet, the budget is still unknown.
“We’ve had numerous complaints about this busy intersection,” Mayor Carmen Amato said. On Memorial Day and the summer months, when Berkeley Shores snowbirds are back in town, there is an increased volume of vehicles going through this area.
“We asked the county for a speed study,” he said.
The Township Council recently passed a measure officially declaring their support for the light.
The county studied crashes in that area from January 1, 2016 through July 25, 2019. There were 16 crashes reported during this 2.5-year period. Only one of them resulted in an injury. There were no fatalities.
They all happened between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. There were no crashes reported on Sundays or Mondays. Almost all of them were during daylight hours on a dry road.
The type of collision was also recorded. There were nine were right angle hits and four were left turn or U-turns. Three were rear endings. There weren’t any, for example, that were sideswipes or head-on collisions. None of them involved pedestrians or bicyclists.
However, it’s worth noting that locals already know that the intersection is bad and they know to slow down and be careful. Having few serious crashes could be a reaction to driver knowledge.