More traffic signals, fewer left turns and better street lighting are some of the changes the downtown could soon experience as Lakewood, NJ, looks to relieve traffic congestion and improve pedestrian safety.
The township planner recently turned in a report that recommends installing several traffic lights along Clifton, Lexington and Forest avenues as well as at the intersection of North Lake Drive and Lakewood Avenue. It also suggested prohibiting drivers from crossing or making a left turn onto Madison Avenue at intersections with no traffic light.
Lakewood’s population went from 45,048 in 1990 to 67,910 in 2005, according to the report, citing state figures. Rough estimates put today’s population at about 80,000. The increase has taken its toll on the roadway infrastructure and public safety.
The planner, T&M Associates, fielded questions and comments at a public hearing Monday, though only about a half-dozen people showed. Some spoke in favor of improving bus services to alleviate traffic.
“It would take a lot of cars off the road if we made the buses child- and stroller-friendly,” Moshe Gluck, 29, said, noting the high proportion of young children in town.
T&M will now draft a final report and submit it probably in late May to the Township Committee for a vote, T&M traffic engineer Lee Klein said.
“Double-parked delivery vehicles, garbage collection run, lack of parking and loading zones all contribute to the traffic congestion and circulation issues,” the report said, noting heaviest traffic was between Fourth and Main streets.
In the downtown area from January 2004 to December 2006, there were 1,022 vehicle collisions, mostly where Madison Avenue meets Second, Fourth, Fifth and Ninth streets or where Clifton Avenue intersects with Second and Ninth streets, according to the report.
Many of the proposals focused on the area around the yeshiva, Beth Medrash Govoha, where thousands of students create a pedestrian cluster zone vulnerable to heavy traffic. There, the report called for improved ambient lighting along Forest Avenue, making Sixth and Seventh streets one-way and installing traffic signals where they intersect with Forest Avenue. The one-way streets would open up 150 more street parking spaces, the report said. It also recommended creating loading and drop-off areas and a carpooling database for commuting students.
The completion time line for the changes ranged from within one year – as with designating time-restricted loading zones off Clifton Avenue – to more than four years – as with installing most of the new traffic signals.
In addition to the local study, the state’s Department of Transportation is examining Route 9 and could add a left turn lane at some of the intersections with traffic lights. Both the DOT and the township are looking at coordinating traffic signal changes on Route 9 to keep traffic at the 35 mph speed limit.