2007-01-24 / Front Page

Tour shows DOT official areas in need of attention

State Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth and Mercer) hosted a delegation of officials from the state Department of Transportation on Jan. 11, along with local officials from Colts Neck, Freehold Township and Manalapan, in an attempt to highlight several areas of concern in the 12th District.

Beck, a member of the Assembly Transportation and Public Works Committee, was joined by Steven Dilts, deputy commissioner of the DOT, for a review of two areas currently in various stages of planning at DOT, along with two areas local officials would like to see reviewed.

The first area of review was the intersection of Route 34 and Route 537 in Colts Neck, an area already in the early stages of review at DOT, according to Beck's office.

There, Beck and the transportation officials were joined by Colts Neck Mayor James Stuart, Committeeman Ben Forrester, town administrator Robert Bowden and Police Chief Kevin Sauter. The local officials called the intersection Monmouth County's No. 1 priority and related to the transportation officials the rush hour problems at the site, including 1-mile backups on Route 537 and the resulting pollution and pressure on secondary roads that come with them.

Dilts cited environmental issues and the historic nature of the Colts Neck Inn property as hurdles to improvements at the intersection, but promised to work with the Colts Neck officials to find a workable solution.

Beck and the transportation officials were then joined by Freehold Township administrator Thomas Antus and township engineer Joseph Mavuro for a review of three areas of concern in that municipality.

On their way to the East Freehold Road and Route 9 intersection, the contingent reviewed the entrances to Route 18 on both Route 537 and Route 79. Of concern for the Freehold Township officials are tractor trailer regulations under consideration at DOT which would limit access to Route 18 for the large trucks from the two roads, forcing them to access Route 9 by East Freehold Road.

Antus cited the existence of the new Opatut Park and the YMCA of Western Monmouth County on East Freehold Road as well as the residential nature of the area as reasons to limit truck traffic there.

This review also gave Beck and the transportation officials the opportunity to view the Kozloski Road site of a Jan. 10 accident which took the lives of four people, including three Freehold Township teenagers. Beck promised to fully review the traffic history of the three-and-a-half-year-old road to see if there were any new and better safety precautions that could be taken in the wake of the accident. She also pledged to work with local school officials to improve driver education programs should they deem them necessary.

The group then moved on to the Route 9, Pond Road, East Freehold Road intersection where they were joined by Freehold Township Mayor Dorothy Avallone and Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas.

According to Beck, Freehold Township officials have been attempting since 1994 to makes changes at the troublesome intersection and were informed by Dilts that the construction of improvements at the site is scheduled to begin in early 2009.

The group's final destination was the intersection of Wemrock Road and Route 33. While not a project currently under review by the DOT, Freehold Township officials would like to see a redesign of the Wemrock Road exit off the Route 33 Bypass to allow for left turns (currently only right turns are allowed), and reconstruction of the Wemrock Road and Route 33 intersection.

Avallone pointed to plans for a new Freehold Raceway Mall access road from Wemrock Road as the catalyst for improving the area in the vicinity of Wemrock Road and Route 33.

Dilts agreed to have a team of engineers come out to evaluate the site.

"As the western part of Monmouth County continues to grow, so does the flow of traffic moving east to west and vice-versa," Beck said. "The DOT has done a wonderful job in working with the county and the municipalities on several sites on the Route 9 corridor in recent years to help alleviate this problem and we thank them for their help. We wanted to bring them out today to highlight the most recent traffic challenges we face in Monmouth County so we can continue to improve our traffic flow and maintain the quality of life that people have come to expect in the county."

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