Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is Rt 35 south of Pt Pleasant "Shore to kill?"

This past Saturday night I was returning home by car from a bike trip to Island Beach State Park. However driving north on Rt 35 at 9pm was an exceptionally unnerving experience even despite traveling below the 35mph speed limit much of the time. Roadway condition were poor and the street lighting just as bad. In many places the roadway, particularly the shoulder was ill defined and in most places, exceptionally wide. Overall the original roadway design seems more appropriate for a highway with scattered commercial strip mall development and 50mph speeds than a street with downtown style stores interspersed with residential homes and HEAVY pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

View Larger Map

And talk of pedestrian and bicycle traffic! It was everywhere and coming from every conceivable direction. This was particularly true in the Lavallette and Ortley Beach areas. Despite the volumes of bike and pedestrian traffic facilities for them were extremely minimal and often in poor condition. Bike lanes are nonexistent and even sidewalks were intermittent. Bicyclists came from every direction with only one of over a hundred having any lights even though it was completely dark by this time. Pedestrians were also hard to see, including ones making every effort to use the marked crosswalks. Local authorities did try to help pedestrians by placing construction barrels in the roadway to accent crosswalks but at night this seemed (to me at least) to cause more confusion.

Now the reason why I bring this up is that Rt 35 is a state highway and it my best understanding that it is entirely within NJDOT's jurisdiction. It is a roadway obviously in need of repair particularly on the north bound side. With repairs coming soon at some point it is time for NJDOT to step up and come up with an Context Sensitive Solution for this highway that suits the needs of all roadway users and increases safety for all. Under the former guidance of Gary Toth, NJDOT became a leader in Context Sensitive Design. With plenty of room in most places there is no reason why contiguous sidewalks and bike lanes (including a possible retrograde lane on the north bound side) along with crosswalk bulb-outs cannot be built to the latest standards without impacting sacred parking spaces. I can think of few other roadways in New Jersey at the moment that are more in need of such treatment.

I just hope something is done about this soon before the title of this post proves to be prophetic.


Unknown said...

I'm surprised by the complete lack of adequate bike and pedestrian facilities in most shore towns. Shore traffic is a nightmare and a source of frustration and confrontation between locals and visitors... providing and encouraging the use of bike/ped facilities to get around would go a long way towards mitigating that problem.

Eric said...

The streets along the beaches are just not safe enough for bike riding. I would not want to ride on the streets in most shore towns in the summer due to a lot of inattentive drivers in their cars, and the lack of safe "bike lanes."