Satisfactory Solution to 10th Street Traffic Safety Concerns Eludes All

By Gina G. Scala | Dec 04, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Ship Bottom — Ship Bottom Mayor William Huelsenbeck offered to undo at least one traffic safety solution on 10th Street last month after homeowners and residents told him the results made their speeding concerns worse, and along with a luxury hotel a block away, decreased property values by at least $100,000.

“We’ll paint it black tomorrow if that’s what you want us to do,” he said Nov. 26 after hearing complaints that striping the roadway made it look and feel like a major thoroughfare.

The striping was one of the solutions put into play this summer after the borough engineer said it would address some of the concerns since the roadway is one of the widest in that area of town. It added a double yellow line down the center of the street and white lines at the shoulders. Retractable signs were to be added to the center line as an added measure to slow down traveling motorists. Officials held off adding those signs because of rumblings that the striping wasn’t working the way it was intended. They were told in no uncertain terms at the last council meeting residents didn’t want to try out those signs, opting for the removal of the striping of the roadway.

“It looks a little like the Garden State Parkway, and I am not comfortable with that,” Victor Dilorio said when Huelsenbeck asked if the residents wanted the borough to remove the striping.

Candyce Chimera, another 10th Street resident, seconded Diorio’s comments, adding she no longer feels safe walking the dog.

“The yellow lines make it worse,” she said. “This is our happy place. It's like a raceway out there on the weekends. We look to you to protect us. Can we close it (the road) on weekends?”

“We’re not going to close it,” Huelsenbeck said, noting there are 31 roads in the borough and each has its own set of concerns. “We’re not supposed to be in the streets; the cars are.”

When officials wanted to require sidewalks in the early 1990s, “people went nuts,” he said.

In October, the council adopted an ordinance restricting trucks from 10th, 11th and 12th streets as a route to the south end of the Island. There were no restrictions, by ordinance, on the residential streets off Shore Avenue on the south side of the Causeway. Motorists, including large delivery-type commercial vehicles and trucks belonging to local landscaping businesses, attempt to bypass summer traffic by cutting through the residential area.

Under borough code, all trucks in excess of 4 tons are excluded from accessing Barnegat Avenue, 19th Street and Shore Avenue. The only exception is for local services, defined by borough code as pickup or delivery of materials or goods, or the rendering of services on such streets.

Similarly, all commercial vehicles are banned from using Barnegat Avenue, 19th Street and Shore Avenue unless for local service reasons.

Ken Reuter, the 10th Street resident who initially brought the neighborhood’s traffic safety concerns to the borough council earlier this year, said he wished he could tell officials that the solutions have “remedied things, but there is still a lot of speeders.”

The issue stems from 10th Street’s proximity to the entrance of Long Beach Island from the Causeway bridge system, the sole entrance and exit roads to the barrier island from the mainland. A quick right off the Causeway onto Shore Avenue, then 10th Street, a residential road, is the first left. It intersects with Barnegat and Central avenues and Long Beach Boulevard before dead-ending at the ocean beach.

For years, the Shore Avenue area has been used as an alternate route for motorists heading south on the Island via Barnegat Avenue to Central Avenue to Long Beach Boulevard. Its proximity to the Causeway makes it an easy alternative to waiting for traffic lights where Ninth Street intersects with Barnegat Avenue near CVS Pharmacy. There’s a second traffic signal where the roadway intersects with Central Avenue, and a final signal at the intersection with the Boulevard.

The traffic snarls in that section of the borough are threefold. First, it’s the outbound traffic from the south end of the Island hoping to beat the lights and traffic on the Boulevard. Those motorists cut across Central Avenue, which is one-way, before turning right onto Barnegat Avenue. Barnegat Avenue has two traffic signals where it intersects with Eighth and Ninth streets, the inbound and outbound Causeway. That’s where the traffic gets tricky as motorists coming onto the Island and turning left at Barnegat Avenue often block or nearly block the intersection so the motorists going straight are unable to get through. That, in turn, causes a snarl for motorists on the south side of Barnegat Avenue.

Maria Naughton, who has lived on 10th Street for about a decade, said delivery trucks come down the road all the time.

“They know we’re a shortcut,” she said.

Reuter said he thought there was a restriction on trucks using the roadway, but noted, “They run very quickly (down the street). It’s a thoroughfare. There is no question about that. We still think speed bumps are the answer.”

Residents have been making a case for speed bumps on the residential roadway for months, saying it would not only curb speeders, but also curtail motorists from using the street as a bypass from Ninth Street. Huelsenbeck, however, continues to say speed bumps have not been recommended as a viable solution by anyone he has spoken with regarding the issue, including the state Department of Transportation.

“No yellow lines didn’t work; having the yellow lines didn’t work. We’ll go back to no yellow lines, but it won’t make a difference,” the mayor said. “We need to find something else (as a solution).”

— Gina G. Scala

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