More Parkway Improvement Projects On Tap

GSPBrick residents can expect to see expanded access to the Garden State Parkway in the next three years, Ocean County Engineer Frank Scarantino said recently. Scarantino gave an update on area traffic projects at the Oct. 27 Township Council meeting. The parkway improvements will be handled in two separate projects. The first will expand access to exit 91. Scarantino said he hopes to see the design phase finished in 2011, with construction beginning in 2012. The project will run between $40 million and $45 million and will include the widening of roads as well as new off ramps and on ramps and the relocation of a ramp on Burnt Tavern Road.

A second project, projected to cost around $40 million, will address exits 88 and 89. Scarantino is hopeful to have the design finished in 2012 and begin construction in 2013.

“This is something we believe will alleviate the traffic problems in Brick,” Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis said after the meeting. “It is something that has taken a really long time to come to fruition. The sooner it gets done, the better it will be for the people of Brick Township.”

Improving all three exits to allow access on both the north and south lanes of the parkway would “help out a lot,” the mayor said.

“The sooner we get that done, the better off we all are,” Acropolis said.

Scarantino did not elaborate at the meeting on how the county intends to rearrange local roads for the projects. He was unable to be reached for comment before the Bulletin’s deadline.

Plans for the parkway projects will be available at town hall for the public to view when the township receives a copy, officials said. Council members also questioned Scarantino on other traffic matters.

Councilman Michael Thulen said that although the county has done a lot of road work in Brick recently, sidewalks were not provided as part of the projects.

Instead, the county left it up to the council to decide whether to install sidewalks and fund their construction, Thulen said.

“When you look at the way the population in the county is growing, I truly think it is important that sidewalks be a part of the town from now on,” Thulen said.

“Our population does walk,” he said, and noted that the recent Mantoloking Bridge project did not include sidewalks.

Scarantino said the county does not provide sidewalks due to statutory and liability issues.

However, he said that whenever the county does a traffic project, the township is given the opportunity to install sidewalks at only a third of the regular cost, since the county pays the fees for curbing, insurance and mobilization associated with sidewalk installation during one of its projects.

“We will not maintain the burden and responsibility to install and maintain sidewalks, and I don’t see us ever crossing that line,” Scarantino said.

Thulen also asked if the county would consider installing solar-powered traffic signals on future projects.

Existing signals run on electricity, and once they become operational, the utility costs for powering the signals become the responsibility of the township, Thulen said.

Scarantino said he did not believe the technology for solar-powered traffic signals was reliable enough for the county’s traffic needs at this time.

The newest design of traffic signals the county currently installs run on LED, which makes them as inexpensive as possible in terms of electricity use, he said.

The newer traffic signals have an added safety precaution of a battery back-up power source, so that in the event of a blackout, the lights will continue to operate for 10 to 12 hours.

That translates into savings for the township, since the township will not need to dispatch police officers to guide traffic at an intersection containing the LED traffic lights during a blackout. That avoids using extra officers and paying overtime during a traffic outage, Scarantino said. Brick Twp Bulletin.

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