TOMS RIVER – Drivers will now be able to make left turns out of the busy parking lots where Target and Michael’s are on Hooper Avenue.
This project, which has been in the works for some time, will allow people quicker egress without having to make jughandles or making dangerous turnarounds.
“This new configuration provides safer and easier access to motorists who are using the shopping centers on Hooper Avenue, south of Indian Hill Road,” said Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. “This project, which is near completion, was done with no interruption to traffic in the area.”
According to the county, the remaining work at the site includes re-striping the area of the new signal.
“The new traffic signal configuration helps motorists access both north and southbound Hooper Avenue and also allows for the crossing of Hooper Avenue to the other shopping center,” Freeholder Virginia Haines said. “This is good for motorists and good for business.”
Previously, if you needed to go north on Hooper out of the shopping center where Michael’s is, you would have to drive south first. There isn’t a way to head north again without taking two U-turns or sneaking through back roads and residential areas.
Similarly, if you were in the shopping center where Target and Lowe’s is, there was no easy way to head south. You would have to go north and make a U-turn on Indian Hill Road in order to go south.
The median between the northbound and southbound lanes on Hooper Avenue was opened for drivers to make lefts and to cross Hooper to go from one shopping center to the other.
Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari along with Freeholder Haines brought the request to look at the traffic signal in the area to Freeholder John P. Kelly, who then sent it to the engineering department, according to the county.
“The Engineering Department had already developed a conceptual improvement plan for the signal to allow left turns onto Hooper Avenue from the shopping centers on each side of Hooper Avenue,” Kelly said. “This is a heavily traveled area of the Hooper Avenue corridor. We believe this modification will have a positive outcome with traffic safety and accessibility.”
The shopping center on the east side of Hooper Avenue is called the Ocean Center and the west side shopping center is the Commons at Hooper.
Dewberry Engineers Inc., Bloomfield, did the design for the project. The contractor was Earle Asphalt Company, Wall Township.
Ocean County reviewed its plans with the shopping center owners who are on-board with the changes.