TOMS RIVER – In about a month, drivers will be able to make left turns onto Hooper Avenue out of the shopping centers hosting Target and Michael’s, a county official said.
The median between the northbound and southbound lanes on Hooper Avenue will be opened to accommodate a new traffic signal and configuration that will allow drivers to make left turns out of each parking lot, and to cross the street into each other’s lots.
Currently, if you need 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 are in the shopping center where Target and Lowe’s is, there is 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 project should be done by the end of June, county engineer John Ernst said.
Much of the work will be done at night to minimize the impact on drivers, he said.
The jughandle linking Hooper to Indian Hill had been widened recently into a designated left and right turn lane to compensate for drivers making this turn, he said.
The project was discussed at least as early as August of 2017, with the plan of being done in 2018.
There were a few delays, Ernst said. The steel poles and extender arms took longer than anticipated to get. Additionally, property owners did not sign off right away, which pushed the timeline back to a time that the electrical contractor was tied up in another job. 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.