BERKELEY – Drivers are breathing a sigh of relief as a stretch of Route 9 covering Berkeley has been repaved.
In addition to the usual wear and tear that happens to a road that old, Route 9 also had a lot of cut outs from utilities. The end result was a bumpy driving experience.
The final section of paving was completed on Tuesday, November 23, just before Thanksgiving. The last portion was the northbound lane from Pelican Drive to Longboat Avenue with alternating traffic using the southbound lane, said Steve Schapiro, Press Manager for the NJ Department of Transportation.
The work was part of a $9.1 million improvement project that includes lighting, construction of curbs and ramps that are compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, sidewalks, milling and paving of approximately eight miles of Route 9 between Jones Road, Lacey and Longboat Avenue, Beachwood. In the future, traffic signals will be upgraded at 13 intersections.
This was happening at the same time that New Jersey Natural Gas was digging in the road to install new mains. Schapiro had said that the DOT’s contractor was doing their work prepping and then paving whenever NJNG was done with a section.
The Berkeley Township Council urged the DOT to hold their contractor, Earle Asphalt, to a stringent deadline and to make sure the road got paved before winter hit and freezing temperatures would make it impossible.
The gas project was an upgrade to a new 12” steel main from Flint Road to Serpentine on Route 9, NJNG spokesman Michael Kinney said. This project began in spring of 2020. COVID-19 caused some delays. It was completed the first week of September, 2021.
During the paving, some drivers complained about safety issues. In one of the last nights, it appeared that no one was directing traffic. Cars were taking the chance of passing in the open lane whether they were allowed to or not. Some of them were driving on the incoming lane long enough to find a parking lot to turn around in. At least one of the signs closing off Motor Road in Pine Beach was on an unlit portion of the road.
Lt. Ryan Roth with the Berkeley Township Police Department said there were no crashes in the construction zone. There were no tickets given to drivers in the construction zone during the time of the paving and no documentation that any drivers were doing anything illegal to circumvent construction.
“There were two NJ State Troopers and four flagmen assisting the construction crews,” Schapiro said. “In addition, there were four VMS signs and a number of ground mounted signs notifying motorists of road work ahead, street closed, and detour signs. This stretch of Route 9 has several side streets that intersect the road. As the milling and paving operation progressed, side roads were closed as necessary and as soon the operation was clear, roads were reopened.”
He said the DOT did not hear any complaints about traffic situations during the paving. The New Jersey State Police did not return an attempt to contact them for this article.