The city council tonight will discuss the state’s proposed new traffic reconfiguration on Main Street, which is a state highway.
Commonly referred to as the “road diet,” the plan reconfigures the current four lane roadway into two through traffic lanes with a turning lane in the center. Two bike lanes will be added between the through lanes and parking lanes on both sides, according to Joe Cunha, the city’s director of engineering.
The plan will black out the current configuration and restripe it with a new pattern. The council is scheduled to discuss the proposal at its workshop meeting at 6:00 p.m.
Every intersection will have dedicated turning lanes, so the intersections will have a hatched pattern, Cunha said.
The redesigned pattern has been successful in areas of high “crash experience” – the amount of car accidents that take place in one area – which is one of the determining factors in the state’s decision to implement the redesign, he said. “It’s a well-documented fact that [the road diet] reduces accidents and increases pedestrian safety. It calms the traffic in those areas while either meeting or exceeding traffic flow needs.”
The new pattern would run along Main Street from the Neptune border up Deal Lake Drive to Grand Avenue.
Benefits of the road reconfiguration include a reduction of pedestrian accidents, improved safety for bicyclists, reduction of rear-end and side-swipe crashes and a higher compliance to the speed limit, which decreases the severity of crashes when they do occur, according to the New Jersey Department of Transportation [NJDOT] website.
The NJDOT has been in contact with the city in regard to the Main Street reconfiguration for three years, Cunha said. They have requested the council adopt a resolution to endorse the road diet implementation on Main Street, but “tonight is just for discussion, because it is a major upgrade to our main thoroughfare.”
During tonight’s meeting, Donald Sammet, city redevelopment and planning director, will discuss the road diet from a planning perspective. Cunha may contribute to the discussion, if needed.
The NJDOT has planned to implement the road diet from Neptune all the way into Allenhurst. Those municipalities have already given the state the go ahead, Cunha said.
If the council eventually votes to adopt a resolution, the reconfiguration could begin within eight to 12 months. Even if they do not decide to go forth with a resolution, the state can implement the plan regardless.
“The state has the right of way,” said Cunha. “They could do whatever they want. If it’s determined to be a total failure, all you have to do is black out the lines and restripe it.”
The NJDOT will fund the entire project.