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The New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) is once again running to court because a Lakewood property owner is delaying their long-awaited Route 9 intersection widening project, FAA News has learned.

As first reported here on FAA News, in September 2022, DOT finally got the shovel in the ground on their long-awaited Route 9 intersection widening project through Lakewood and Toms River.

Construction began with utility relocation. The majority of the water main work in Toms River is complete, and about 80 percent of the overhead utility wires have been relocated throughout the project. There is ongoing work throughout the project limits that includes watermain, sewage, telecommunication, and overhead electric/cable relocations, as well as some electrical work to upgrade traffic signals, a NJDOT spokesperson confirmed to FAA News.

This project includes the following improvements to the Route 9 intersection with Oak Street:

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.

However, Laurie Leeds, the property owner of a parcel at the intersection, is once again delaying the construction by refusing to sign off the necessary right of way acquisition on two pieces of property, at the Route 9 intersections with Turin Avenue and with Providence Avenue.

The kicker is that the "acquisition" isn't even for any permanent taking of the lands, but rather for temporary construction line easements at Turin Avenue and Providence Avenue.

Even cooler, these easements have been appraised at $500 and $1,000, respectively. 

In response, and to keep the road project on track, the DOT has filed legal action seeking for the Superior Court to grant the immediate "taking of the lands" by the Power of Eminent Domain.

The DOT is represented by Deputy Attorney General Rebecca J. Karol from the New Jersey Attorney General's Office.

Agreeing that the matter is emergent, Ocean County Superior Court Assignment Judge Francis Hodgson has signed Orders to Show Cause ordering Ms. Leeds to appear in court and "show cause" why judgment should not be entered declaring that DOT is authorized to, and has duly exercised its Power of Eminent Domain as to the property and rights for public use.

Ms. Leeds has not yet opposed the legal filings, however, she has requested oral arguments as well as an adjournment until after Pesach. Accordingly, Judge Hodgson has adjourned the matter until Friday, May 10, 2024.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The entire roadway between route 70 and the lake should be widened using the power of eminent domain. All of the properties that are built within the safety buffer zone setback should be acquired by the state using eminent domain as well and the zoning board members who gave variances to allow those properties to be built all the way up to the sidewalks should be held personally responsible for the expense.