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Using federal funds, Ocean County and the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) have been planning for a while to begin a comprehensive study to bring long-term major traffic improvements to address congestion and safety along portions of Kennedy Boulevard and County Line Road in Lakewood.

Unfortunately, due to no plausible explanation, this study has been delayed as the contract to begin the study, which is all ready to be awarded, simply has not yet been awarded, FAA News has learned.

According to 2020 traffic counts, Kennedy Boulevard carries 18,816 vehicles daily, and County Line Road carries 18,774 vehicles daily. Peak traffic hours are 7:00-9:00am and 4:00pm-6:00pm, with 2,827 vehicles traveling Kennedy Boulevard during the peak afternoon hours.

Between September 2018 and September 2021 there were 30 crashes, including 4 crashes with injuries, at County Line Road and Forest Avenue. Several more intersections along these roads have had over 20 crashes over a 3 year period.

Noting that "the heavy volumes of vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic creates unsafe conditions along these corridors," county officials have been planning on some major congestion improvements along these corridors.

In June 2021, the Ocean County Board of Commissioners formally committed $1.6 Million for the reconstruction and widening of Kennedy Boulevard between Squankum Road and Route 9. Plans for that project continue in preliminary engineering stages.

County officials deemed this project to be "shorter term improvements," and they commenced on obtaining federal grants for a more major improvements project for this corridor.

In March 2022, Ocean County was awarded $1 million in federal funds from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority for a Local Concept Development to study Kennedy Boulevard and East County Line Road between Squankum Road and Laurelwood Avenue "to address congestion and safety in the project area."

At this early stage in the process, county officials do not yet know what configuration these roads will have once the project advances, rather, the NJTPA Local Concept Development process will review the project area and identify alternatives and at the completion of the LCD process, the county will know what improvements will be recommended to advance to preliminary design.

Once the LCD is complete, NJTPA will use additional federal funds for the Preliminary and Final Engineering work as well as the actual road work, a NJTPA spokesperson confirmed to FAA News.

(In simple terms, the federal government gives money for major road improvements. However, you can't simply tell them what you want to do and then ask for a blank check. Rather, you need to first go through the process of doing comprehensive studies which includes studying various "planning alternatives" (i.e. different road improvements or configurations) and then you can get funding for the exact project that you already knew from the beginning that you wanted to do).

All this is fantastic. The question is, so where exactly is this big study up to?

As previously reported here on FAA News, already back in October 2022, the NJTPA began the process of soliciting bids for a contractor for this study.

The bidding process was completed on December 7, 2022. The NJTPA Board of Trustees - which includes Ocean County Commissioner Jack Kelly and Engineer John Ernst - only meets several times per year. They held meetings in January, March, and earlier this week. In all this time, they have still not awarded the contract for this study.

Their grand explanation is that "the consultant selection process is still on going for this project.  It is anticipated that the contract will be awarded next month."

This project is at the infancy stages and we are likely still 7-10 years before actual road work is done. The study itself is expected to take a year and a half. However, everything is delayed until whenever the NJTPA Board of Trustees gets around to awarding the contract for the study.

The project section of Kennedy Blvd currently has 2 travel lanes, each 12 feet wide, plus a shoulder of variable width, 0-14 feet. The project section of County Line Road currently has 3 travel lanes, each 12 feet wide, plus a shoulder of variable width, 0-6 feet.

This section of Kennedy Blvd was last repaved in 2008. Portions of County Line Road were last repaved in 2012 and 2008.

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