Cedar Bonnet Island Residents Could Finally Be Heard on Traffic Safety Concerns

By Gina G. Scala | Dec 18, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Stafford Township — The state Department of Transportation plans to schedule a meeting with residents of Cedar Bonnet Island and local officials early next year to address concerns some individuals living on the south end of the sedge island have about the lack of a safe way to access new sidewalks on the north side of the rehabbed old Causeway.

It’s unclear when or where that meeting will take place and how Cedar Bonnet Island residents will be notified of the forum. State transportation officials did not respond to a request for further information before deadline.

“I am glad to hear there are plans for a meeting,” Laurie Hens, a longtime Cedar Bonnet Island resident, said Dec. 16.

The news came nearly a week after Hens said she was told a solution to address the traffic safety concerns wasn’t likely to materialize. Before the $312 million federally funded project to rehab and expand the Causeway, the only roadway on and off Long Beach Island, Hens was told there would be two walkways: one on the north side and one on the south side.

“They only put in one walkway and that is on the north side of Cedar Bonnet Island, and we do not have a safe way to access this walkway on foot,” she wrote in a letter to local and state officials earlier this year.

Residents living on the south side of Cedar Bonnet Island currently must walk in the sole traffic lane of the narrow two-way tunnel road that goes under the Causeway to access the walkway. There are two traffic signals, one for motorists and one for pedestrians/bicyclists, at the north end by the Dutchman’s Restaurant and on the south end near the front yard of a Cedar Bonnet Island residence.

The traffic signals are so long some motorists and pedestrians/bicyclists go against the light and come face-to-face with oncoming traffic that does have the green light, according to Hens.

Work on expanding and rehabbing the Causeway began in 2013. It’s expected to continue through 2022. The next major phase of the nine-year project, which has been referred to by state DOT officials as the final phase, will address safety and operational issues at the Route 72/Marsha Drive intersection in Stafford Township, as well as operational and drainage improvements in Ship Bottom, the gateway to LBI.

The final phase calls for the reconfiguration of the Causeway circle into a square. The Arlington Beach Club condo complex marks the area in question. The work zone is located along the western property line of the complex and Long Beach Boulevard, the main thoroughfare on the barrier island.

Squaring off the beach club property makes room for the traffic pattern changes on Eighth and Ninth streets, the entrance and exit roadways for LBI from Route 72. It also changes the traffic flow on Central Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard. The DOT’s proposed improvements in Ship Bottom have long included converting a section of the Boulevard into a two-way road at the site of the Arlington Beach Club, once the site of a gas station.

The precise timing of the work is subject to change due to weather or other factors. Motorists are encouraged to check the DOT’s traffic information website, 511nj.org, for construction updates and real-time travel updates.

— Gina G. Scala

ggscala@thesandpaper.net

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