The Ocean County Board of Commissioners will on March 1st vote on a motion to approve improvement plans for Lakewood’s long-troubled Cross Street, in a move that has left many scratching their heads.
The Commissioners are expected to approve a motion “approving the plans and specifications and authorizing the County Engineer to advertise for the receipt of bids for the reconstruction of Cross Street, Route 626, from Augusta Boulevard to State Highway Route 9, Lakewood Township.”
The upgrades being planned primarily center around adding left-turning lanes on Cross Street, and some other minor corrections and improvements, but would do nothing to improve the traffic situation on Cross Street, and furthermore, would likely make them worse, multiple sources tell Lakewood Alerts.
Firstly, one official noted, the area being targeted for improvements is located on the “wrong” end of Cross Street. The area of the roadway between Route 9 and Augusta Blvd. (Eagle Ridge) is not overloaded with vehicles. If the County was serious about making improvements to Cross Street, they would make improvement to the opposite end of the road, from the area of New Egypt/East Veterans to Augusta Blvd., where the overwhelming majority of the traffic issues lie.
Secondly, he added, it “seems that on top of the stale attempt at placating Lakewood residents with pointless improvements,” there is a “shady” aspect to the upgrades being planned.
He explains that a longstanding plan to add hundreds of housing units at Eagle Ridge has been held up in part by a court’s requirement for left-turning lanes to be added to Cross Street in the area of the proposed homes. The left-turning lanes would be placed at Augusta Blvd., thus fulfilling the court’s requirement and thereby potentially allowing developers to add more than 1,000 additional families to the area.
“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that not only would these turning lanes do nothing to alleviate traffic, but in fact the traffic will get a lot worse on Cross Street as a direct consequence of these turning lanes,” another official fumed.
“These so-called improvements are intended to quiet down frustrated Lakewood residents while at the same time making things worse for them,” he said. “This move is mostly intended at rewarding well-connected individuals and companies who will make millions by stuffing more families into an already overpopulated area.”
The sudden advancement of plans to improve Cross Street – which had been promised by the County for some 10 years already – comes on the heels of Lakewood Alerts reporting that Lakewood Committeeman Menashe Miller is exploring a run for a Commissioner seat specifically because the County has been dragging its feet on making critically needed improvements to failing County-controlled roads in Lakewood.
And while the move appears to be intended at dissuading Miller from mounting an official run for the Commissioner seat being vacated by retiring Commissioner Vicari, it appears that they would only underline the need for a Lakewood resident to be on the Board of Commissioners.
Interestingly, and apropos of the subject at hand, Committeeman Miller told Lakewood News Network last week that “widening Cross Street is a major priority” for him if he were to run and be elected to the Board of Commissioners.