Solutions to Traffic and Speeding on 10th Street in Ship Bottom a ‘Work in Progress’

By Gina G. Scala | Oct 02, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Ship Bottom — For an 11-day period beginning Aug. 23, 6,500 motorists made the first right off the Causeway onto Shore Avenue before swinging a quick left on 10th Street. That’s more than 600 vehicles per day, though it’s unclear from the data how many of those motorists live or were visiting homes on the residential street.

The data was compiled by the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office using new technology, Mayor William Huelsenbeck said. It was in response to traffic safety concerns from 10th Street residents, who first broached the issue with the borough council in June and followed up again in July.

Ken Reuter presented the governing body with a signed petition at its June 25 meeting asking for speed bumps to be installed on the road as one solution to reduce speed and hopefully discourage use of the residential street as a bypass to the south end of the Island. Reuter was back for this month’s council meeting.

Reuter told the council he was shocked by the number of vehicles that traveled the residential road between Aug. 23 and Sept. 3, noting those numbers would be higher in July and August.

“That’s the end of the season,” he said. “Tenth Street has become the annex to the Causeway.”

Its proximity to the Causeway is the reason the Shore Avenue area is used as an alternative route for motorists heading south on the Island via Barnegat Avenue to Central Avenue to Long Beach Boulevard. For years, it was used mainly by locals or long-time visitors. In recent years, and perhaps no more so than this summer, the route has become so mainstream that instead of helping alleviate traffic, it creates it.

“I live on 13th Street,” Mayor William Huelsenbeck said. “On a rainy day, I can’t get out of my driveway.”

Traffic congestion in that section of the borough is 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, known as 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.

To combat the overuse of 10th Street as an alternative route, the borough, on the recommendation of its engineer, lined the street to make it seem narrow. It’s the widest residential roadway in that area of the borough. By striping the sides and adding double-yellow lines down the center of the street and a retractable sign in the middle of the lines, motorists would naturally slow down. Only that hasn’t happened, according to Reuter.

“It’s made it worse. It’s turned 10th Street into a thoroughfare,” he said during his exchange with the governing body at the Sept. 24 meeting, noting he was there to ask the council to consider installing speed bumps along 10th Street. “We know they can be loud.”

Huelsenbeck, who was initially in favor of that solution, said he has been stonewalled by nearly everyone he has spoken to regarding the installation of speed bumps. Including, he said, the state Department of Transportation. Part of the issue is that speed bumps work well in parking lots, not in areas where the speed limit is 25 mph, Huelsenbeck said.

“I am not hearing anyone say get them,” the mayor said. “I don’t know how to install speed bumps without taking on significant liability.”

An easier solution, to at least another concern, is to put up signs prohibiting trucks from using the residential roadway and notifying motorists there is no access to the Causeway from 10th Street. Similar signs are already installed south of 10th Street where it intersects with Barnegat Avenue.

“It’s a work in progress. I’ve been working on it all summer,” the mayor said. “We didn’t abandon you” because the data showed the average rate of speed by a motorist traveling on 10th Street is 21 mph, 4 miles under the posted speed limit.

Reuter, a 20-plus-year resident of Ship Bottom, said he’s never seen the number of vehicles on 10th Street as he has this summer.

“It’s a hell of a lot of cars,” he said, also mentioning his concern about speeding. “One or 10 who speed is too many.”

— Gina G. Scala


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