TOMS RIVER – Ortley Beach residents living on Harding Avenue have urged the Township Council to turn their street into a one-way street to cut down on traffic, but officials said this would only make traffic worse on other streets.
When heading north on Route 35, Harding is the first street that drivers can turn left on so they can make it back to the bridge. Residents complained of lost tourists, delivery trucks, and a lot more traffic on that street in the summer.
Anthony Colucci, president of the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association, was one of the residents who wants to see it made into a one-way street.
“You’re taking your life in your hands,” he said of the intersection.
He shared a 2017 traffic study that showed an average of 1,784 cars a day during the days of Aug 12 through Aug. 18. Of these, 1,308 were heading west (toward Route 35 South to go back to Seaside Heights and mainland Toms River). There were 291 trucks a day included in this total. The average speed was under the residential speed limit.
Guiseppe Padovano, who lives on Harding Avenue, said that there have been studies done about traffic on the street, but no action.
Township engineer Robert Chankalian said that the road should remain as is. The police and a private consulting firm have also decided that it should remain that way.
Decades ago, Eisenhower Avenue was the first left that drivers could make to head back to the mainland, he said. The State Department of Transportation made that road a one-way street. People were cutting through and the intersection between Route 35 South and Eisenhower had a lot more crashes.
If the town made Harding a one-way as well, it would then kick more traffic onto the next street, which is Coolidge Avenue, he said.
“We’re not solving a problem, we’re just moving it,” Chankalian said.
Then, the Coolidge residents would certainly be unhappy about this. If Coolidge was then made one way, it would then push the problem to Fort Avenue, which would anger those residents. If Fort was made one way, it would push all the traffic to the traffic light on Fielder, which might not be able to handle the strain of the cars from those three streets. Some drivers might choose to cut illegally through the proposed one-ways to avoid two traffic lights.
Currently, the traffic counts are within the DOT guidelines, he said. There are not a lot of crashes recorded to register it as a major safety concern.
Traffic Safety Officer Steven Schwartz also said that the current traffic configuration was made to reduce crashes on the southbound side of Route 35 when Eisenhower was two ways.
Drivers are encouraged to go up to the traffic light, he said. However, they either have local knowledge or a GPS that tells them which way to go.
He said that while it is an inconvenience for residents of that street, it is not a safety issue.
Stop Sign Change
Additionally, the Township Council recently switched which way stop signs were pointed at the intersection of Eisenhower and Washington Avenue, near the Acme.
The stop signs were on Washington Avenue. But, since this is a through street, officials said it did not make sense for the stop signs to be on that side. They should be on the Eisenhower sides. So, the change was made. The change had been requested by the OBTVA.
A resident at the meeting, Pat Klaslo, said she would prefer that the intersection be a four-way stop.
Colucci also said he is happy with the change, but would like to see it a four-way stop sign.
There are a lot of children who play in the streets, and people driving out of the Acme, that it could be made safer, he said.
Chankalian said that Eisenhower is a secondary street, and that the State Department of Transportation frowns upon four-way stop signs.