TOMS RIVER – Officials announced that they received a grant for $5.6 million that they will use to raise Herflicker Boulevard, which they say will help bring redevelopment downtown.
The $5,660,000 Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Grant came from the United States Department of Transportation.
Herflicker needs to be raised and extended to Highland Parkway, the street where the NJ Transit bus depot is, business administrator Don Guardian said. The bridge itself is static, but the road after that would be raised as it heads west.
Currently, the road leading through there is more like an industrial access road. This is an area that the township recently eyed for new development: between the Garden State Parkway and Route 9, and south of West Water Street. It had been rezoned to allow for street-level retail shops close to transportation and apartments. It would be designed to be an aesthetically pleasing “sense of place” that would be “capitalizing on views of the Toms River and proximity to the historic seaport waterfront,” according to the plan. Making the streets safer is a step in that direction.
There are traffic plans that would allow anyone getting off the Garden State Parkway, or heading east on Lakehurst Road, to make a right onto Highland Parkway, then make a left onto Herflicker, and then head south on Route 9 from there. This would allow commuters to bypass Water Street, which gets very congested at times.
Township officials have suggested that Herflicker would be one-way heading east, and West Water Street would be one-way heading west, but that is not set in stone yet.
There’s also a safety aspect. Raising Herflicker would help prevent flooding, like what happened during Superstorm Sandy. It would help it be an evacuation route.
The county’s bicycle path would also be welcome to run alongside it.
Herflicker is a county road, but Toms River officials really wanted the work done, so they applied for the grant and will work with the county in order to bring the project to fruition, Guardian said. South Toms River would also see the benefit of a reworked traffic signalization at the intersection of Herflicker and Main Street.
“This project has been a priority for the township for year, now we have full funding to complete these needed improvements,” stated Mayor Thomas F. Kelaher. “Toms River was the only community in New Jersey to receive a BUILD grant.”
Also this year, the town acquired the Red Carpet Inn – which had attracted illegal activity – and plans on demolishing it to make way for a more attractive downtown area.
The funding came from $1.5 billion in grants authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, according to a press release. Projects were chosen based on such factors as safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, and environmental protection.
Rutala Associates, a Linwood, NJ planning firm, was retained by the township earlier this year to purse funding for this and other major projects.