TOMS RIVER – Ortley Beach residents said the intersection of Route 35 and Harding Avenue is dangerous, and urged the Township Council to make it illegal to make a left turn onto it.
The problem, resident Guiseppe Padovano explained, is that people leaving Seaside Heights use Harding to turn around so they can head back to the bridge. He wanted there to be no more left turns onto Harding from Route 35.
“There were 142 accidents in five years,” Padovano said. He told the Township Council that he received that figure from the police department.
Toms River police information officer Ralph Stocco said the following day that the records were being migrated from one computer system to another, so he could not confirm the figure of 142 accidents. Only very recent crashes were available, of which there was one since the third week in June.
The Toms River police has crossing guards at intersections along Route 35 for eight hours a day, he said. They are aware of the problem and are working on it.
Another Ortley resident, Rosemary Durnan, said she lives near that intersection and agreed with Padovano. She suggested that the traffic be rerouted to intersections with a traffic signal.
“That is the most dangerous intersection on the barrier island – bar none,” said another Ortley resident, Ken Langdon.
Township engineer Robert Chankalian said that Eisenhower Avenue used to be the first street people could turn around in. When that was made a one-way street by the state Department of Transportation, it shifted the problem to Harding. Harding became the first street to turn around.
And that’s the problem with making it illegal to make a left turn onto Harding. It would, in turn, shift the problem to another street, he said.
“There’s always going to be a first street,” he said. “We have to be respectful of other residents.”
The Township Council asked the engineer, police, and DOT to look into it.
In related news, Langdon questioned the absence of signs and traffic barrels that he had advocated for 10 years ago. He suggested that the town removed them because the signs cost money.
Township officials responded that they were in violation of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, published by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. If the town was in violation, they could be held liable if, for example, a motorcyclist hit one of the barrels.
Township officials and Langdon disagreed on this, and it quickly became an argument where more than one person was talking over the other.
The council directed the traffic issues over to the police department.