Traffic-congestion relief to Lakewood's Route 9 corridor is finally "nearby", as the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) this week announced they plan to begin their long-awaited Route 9 intersection widening project later this month.

DOT solicited bids from interested contractors earlier this spring, and awarded the $48,480,513.13 contract to the Earle Asphalt Company of Wall, NJ. Major road projects, especially of this scope, typically require extra money above the contract price, and in this case, DOT estimates that the total cost will be $76 million. Earlier this spring, DOT secured full NJTPA-administered federal funding for this project.

The project will address existing pavement deficiencies by milling and paving the roadway of Route 9 from 2nd Street in Lakewood to Indian Hill Road in Toms River, and providing an additional High-Performance Thin Overlay, widening the Route 9 mainline at select locations to increase outside shoulder width and to provide a more consistent cross section with bicycle compatibility, existing traffic signals will be brought up to current MUTCD and ADA standards (with bigger, brighter bulbs), widening of 8 currently signalized intersections with addition of turning lanes, signal upgrades with ADA compatibility, addition of two new traffic signals; and addition of two miles of new sidewalks to provide walk-ability and connectivity. Storm water management will be addressed by updating roadway drainage to meet current standards, and 4 new one stormwater basins will be installed in conjunction with updated piping networks.

Numerous utility poles, located on both sides of the road, will need to be moved prior to road widening. The work is expected to take at least 3 years.

Specifically, in Lakewood, the following improvements are included in this project:

• New left turning arrow will be installed on Route 9 southbound at 2nd Street

• Turning lane from Route 9 southbound onto Route 88 will be extended through 1st Street in order to keep through-traffic flowing. A 4-foot wide island will be installed across 1st Street to preclude left turns onto 1st Street, and 1st Street will be made into right in, right out only on both sides of Route 9.

• Central Avenue / Hurley Avenue - Route 9 northbound will widened with an additional through lane. DOT officials have determined that the left turning lanes onto Central and Hurley Ave's are underutilized. Therefore, they will convert both turning lanes to through lanes, which will provide room on Route 9 for this additional through lane northbound from Central/Hurley Avenue to Route 88. This will ban left turns in both directions, forcing northbound traffic to use James and Sunset, to get to Central Ave.

• Hurley Avenue / South Lake Drive / Caranetta Drive - A second through lane will be extended on Hurley Avenue for westbound traffic. The existing second eastbound through lane on Central Avenue will be extended several hundred feet. The east end of South Lake Drive will be modified to ingress only. The east end of Caranetta Drive will be modified to egress only.

• Pine/James Street intersection - The end of Pine Street will be realigned to flatten the existing curve. James Street will be widened to add a left turning lane onto Route 9 northbound. The traffic signal will be modified / replaced so all four approaches will have dedicated-turning arrows, and the realignment will allow turns in both directions at the same time.

• Prospect Street - Route 9 Southbound will get a new right turning lane on to Prospect street which will be widened to provide more space for wide turning trucks. Additionally, new crosswalks will be painted. The traffic signal will be modified to include a southbound right-turning signal which will permit southbound right-turns while Prospect Street has the green light. This will greatly enhance southbound traffic.

• Spruce Street - new left turning lanes from Route 9 north and southbound onto Spruce Street.

• Hadassah Lane - Route 9 Northbound will get a left turning lane on to Hadassah Lane.

• Oak Street - Route 9 will be widened with northbound and southbound left turning lanes, and a northbound right turning lane. A new traffic signal will be installed, with a dedicated phasing for left turns from Route 9 which will permit right turns from Oak Street at the same time. Oak Street will also be widened to accommodate 2 lanes onto Route 9. Right turns from Oak Street onto Route 9 will be permitted during the dedicated left-turning phase from Route 9.

• Broadway/Chateau will be realigned to meet up. A new traffic light, and left turning lanes in all directions (on Route 9 and on the intersecting streets) will be installed. Route 9 will have dedicated left-turning arrows.

• Finchley/Ford - Route 9 will get left turning lanes at Finchley and Ford

• Cross Street / Chestnut Street will be realigned with an additional third lane on both Cross Street and Chestnut Street, to provide for dedicated right turns, left turns, and thru traffic. The realignment will allow for dedicated left turns from both Cross Street and Chestnut Street at the same time, and then a green light phase from both Cross Street and Chestnut Street at the same time. Additionally, dedicated green right-turning arrows will be installed to permit rights turns from both Cross Street and Chestnut Street while Route 9 has dedicated green left-turning arrows. This new traffic pattern is expected to have a great impact of traffic flow at this heavily congested intersection.

• Locust street - To alleviate traffic coming off Route 70, a new westbound right turning lane will be added from Locust Street westbound onto Route 9 northbound.

• Many gaps of the sidewalks will be filled in with ADA compliant sidewalks. Many current sidewalks will be widened to 5 feet. Many existing curb ramps will be replaced to meet ADA compliance.

• The project also includes installation of 3 stormwater management basins in Lakewood, north of the Route 70 westbound ramp (across from an existing basin), and on Route 9 northbound, north of Buttell Avenue, and south of Henry Street.

Impacts on local traffic will be minimized by dividing the project into 3 sections. The intent is to complete each stage before moving onto the next area of construction. During resurfacing, traffic will be maintained utilizing alternating one-way traffic or one-direction detours. Due to the high traffic volume and seasonal traffic impacts, work that allows only a single-lane or diversion of traffic has been limited to late night hours. Work that can be performed maintaining all existing through lanes or by shifting lanes will be permitted during the daytime.

In 2015, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority - the federally authorized Metropolitan Planning Organization for the 13-county northern New Jersey region - presented plans for a center left turning lane along this section of Route 9. However, in 2020, DOT officials notified local officials that they decided to withdraw their plans for a project of that scope, explaining that that proposal would have cost $555 million because "Route 9 is surrounded by a mix of residential and commercial properties with many having frontage and parking close to the Right-of-way. The resulting widening would have required extensive land acquisitions etc, resulting in significant costs for which DOT does not have sufficient funding."

DOT is currently holding a virtual public meeting with more details about this project which is available by watching the presentation at

The goal of this Virtual Public Information Center (PIC) to provide local residents, officials, businesses and the general public with information on the Route 9 Pavement project.

You will have an opportunity to review a presentation, view project information and submit comments and questions.

You are encouraged to actively participate by providing comments by email which will be welcome until this Monday.

Property owners with rental units are advised that tenants are also invited and encouraged to participate.

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