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The completion and opening of Lakewood Township's long-awaited Vermont Avenue Extension project is yet once again delayed, as the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) has again held off issuing the required permits, FAA News has learned.

In welcome news to South Lakewood and Toms River residents and commuters, in 2021, Lakewood Township paved the Vermont Avenue Extension from Chestnut Street to the Wawa stub. Unfortunately, however, the road has not yet been opened as DOT is not permitting the Township to open that portion of the road until the Township completes additional paving and other major improvements all the way to the Route 70 & Vermont Avenue intersection. Those improvements will include widening the northern approach to accommodate the additional travel lanes, as well as installation of sidewalk and pedestrian crossings across Route 70.

The Township has so far been unable to complete the intersection improvements simply because... DOT is not yet satisfied with the Township's engineering plans for that work.

As previously reported here on FAA News, back in November 2022, DOT sent Township officials yet another list of engineering items to fix up. DOT also sent a permit for the portion of the work, however, the documents clearly state that the permit is "not valid until the intersection improvements construction plans are approved by the Department," and those construction plans are not approved until the Township addresses all items in DOT's letter.

The Township Engineering Department responded to this letter on January 4, 2023.

However, the completion of the Vermont Avenue Extension is yet again delayed, as, on March 29, 2023, DOT responded with a letter requiring confirmation from NJDEP’s Dam Safety that this project work does not create a dam.

Just last week, on April 11, 2023, the Township Engineering Department submitted a letter addressing this issue to the NJDEP Division of Dam Safety. The Township is still waiting for a response to this letter.

In late 2020, the Township was awarded a NJDOT grant which will provide some funding for this project. That grant included a stipulation that the Township was required to award a contract for the project no later than September 2022 - something which the Township has been unable to do simply because they are still waiting for final approval from DOT of their road work plans.

The Township was previously granted an extension to award the project no later than May 30, 2023. However, at this point, seeing the continued delays in getting the project out to bid, the Township is now seeking another extension of retaining the grant until November 30, 2023.

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