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As road work continues full-force on Lakewood Township's Vine Street Extension project from Pine Street to Cedar Bridge Avenue, another major road improvements project which is expected to improve traffic flow is on the horizon as well, and the contract is expected to be awarded today, FAA News has learned.

Cedar Bridge Avenue is one of Lakewood's most traveled road. According to recent traffic counts, eastbound there are 1,162 trips in the morning peak hour and 977 trips in the afternoon peak hour, westbound there are 848 trips in the morning peak hour and 1,003 trips in the afternoon peak hour.

Cedar Bridge Avenue is also the most crash prone road in Lakewood, and 2 of its intersections are ranked first and second on the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority's (NJTPA) list of high-crash intersections in the County. 

Due to its numerous intersecting roads in the MLK / Arlington area, it is also the most dangerous roadway for pedestrians. In 2017, after 3 fatal crashes in this section of the road, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office cited the roadway as "one of the area’s most dangerous".

In early 2018, in response to 3 fatal crashes the year prior, Ocean County officials announced they secured a $1.6 million federal grant to upgrade the section between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Vine Avenue to increase safety for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Based on a study funded by this grant, the Ocean County Engineering Department determined that many of the pedestrian crashes were high severity, outside the crosswalks, and against the flow of traffic.

There is currently one marked crosswalk at the MLK Drive signalized intersection and one marked crosswalk at the non-signalized Ashley Avenue intersection. These crosswalks are not high visibility.

Under a $2,191,513.13 contract which the Ocean County Board of Commissioners are expected to award today to Earle Asphalt Company, this section of Cedar Bridge Avenue will soon receive major Traffic Safety Improvements:

• The entire roadway will be repaved with reflective striping in the road to assist the drivers in negotiating the roadway. This will be especially helpful at night and during inclement weather when visibility is low.

• To curb pedestrian crossing outside of the crosswalks, a 6” high x 6” wide concrete median will be installed in the center of the road to discourage pedestrians from crossing outside of the crosswalks. There will be signs at the ends of the median that provide notice to the drivers that there is an island, typical of what is present along other roadways.

• Safe crossing will be permitted at intersections only which will be upgraded with pedestrian refuge islands and newly marked hi-visibility crosswalks. "Pedestrian Crossings" high-visibility signage will also be installed near crosswalks.

• Existing pedestrian curb ramps are not ADA compatible. All curb ramps will be replaced for ADA-compliance.

• The shoulders along the corridor will be upgraded for bicycle compatibility.

• The project also includes widening of the road to include dedicated left-turn lanes on Cedar Bridge Avenue at MLK Drive, and a new dedicated left-turn lane on Cedar Bridge Avenue at Arlington Avenue.

• The existing traffic signal on Cedar Bridge Avenue at MLK Drive will be replaced to including a lead-left turn phase for both directions.

• Cedar Bridge Avenue will also be widened at the Vine Street intersection to include left turning lanes in both directions. A new traffic signal, with full pedestrian accomodations, will also be installed at this newly redesigned intersection. This Ocean County project is being coordinated with Lakewood Township's project to pave Vine Avenue from Pine Street to Cedar Bridge Avenue. Once both projects are complete, there will be right and left turning lanes from Vine Avenue onto Cedar Bridge Avenue and a traffic signal with full pedestrian accomodations at the intersection.

• To further increase safety for all vehicles, the existing intersections at Ashley Avenue and Melville Avenue will be reduced to right in / right out only.

According to guidelines from the federal Highway Safety Analysis, county officials anticipate that these improvements will bring a 30% decrease in total crashes as well as a 35% decrease in fatalities.

The Ocean County Engineering Department has been hard at work for over 4 years designing the project and securing various permits which are required to maintain eligiblity for the federal grant. This task finally come to completion at the end of August when Federal Authorization was finalized and the project went out to bid. The county received 3 bids and Earle's bid was the lowest qualified and responsive bid.

If all goes well, construction is expected to begin this winter!

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