LAKEHURST – One of the most anticipated events for the borough is the opening of a new convenience store in the form of a Wawa this summer.
During a recent Borough Council meeting, it was noted that the Wawa, was expected to open in July, possibly as early as Fourth of July weekend. It is currently being built near the circle where Route 70 and Union Avenue connect by the former La Bove Grande, across the street from the Police Department. Beacon of Life is now in that space.
Drivers have noticed the ongoing construction of the Wawa and are also curious how entrance and exit ways will be routed.
Police Chief Matthew Kline told The Manchester Times “I feel the engineers and state DOT (Department of Transportation) did the best they could with the traffic plan.”
“There are three exits and entrances for the new Lakehurst Wawa. There is an exit and entrance on Route 70 East that will share an exit and entrance for the Express Inn motel. This can only be accessed off Route 70 East since there is a curbed median along Route 70 prohibiting entering off Route 70 West,” the chief explained.
He added, “to enter off Route 70 West, you must travel around the Eisenhower Circle (or turn off Route 70 prior to Lilac Street and use back streets). There will be an exit and entrance on Lilac Street directly behind the Wawa where you will be able to access Union Avenue and Route 70 East from that exit.”
“The other exit and entrance will be on Union Avenue (in front of Police Headquarters). That entrance can only be accessed from Union Avenue travelling west and vehicles can only exit west on Union Avenue. However, once you exit from there, you can get anywhere using the Eisenhower Circle,” Chief Kline added. Eisenhower Circle is the local name for this area.
The chief said, “I have been working with State DOT for more signage and have shared my concerns I have with motorists crossing over the curbed median. I have been advised they will look at the pattern once again and determine if any changes need to be made.”
“I am still waiting to hear back from them. I would have liked to see a bigger median dividing Route 70 east and west in front of the Wawa or some type of poles on the curbed median for better visibility. We have had motorists drive over the curbed median on several occasions,” Chief Kline added.
“Although I anticipate some minor traffic issues when the store opens due to it being a new traffic pattern for most, I feel they will work themselves out once it is up and running for a couple weeks,” the chief said.
The borough lost a 7-Eleven store that had existed in the community for many years, in 2022. It closed with little notice. That chain also lost several locations in Toms River on Route 37 and Fischer Boulevard in recent years.
A Toms River based Wawa located on the border of Manchester is a popular spot for those needing a gas and a hot cup of coffee. Manchester’s own Whiting based Wawa location further down Route 70 is another popular stop.
This facility, located between both of those stores will also feature a gas station as most Wawa facilities in the state do at this point. Wawa opened another location in Brick Township last year. It has multiple locations in Lacey, Toms River, Berkeley, Plumsted and Jackson townships. Some of these don’t have gas pumps.
The convenience store chain jumped ahead of 7-Eleven, Cumberland Farms and Quick Chek several decades ago. Quick Chek has adopted many of the same models of service as Wawa featuring a deli and specialty café area along with self-check kiosks, ATM machines and gas service. Many Quick Chek stores also offer interior seating for customers – something that Wawa is only beginning to offer in some locations.