By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
Asbury Park’s Main Street is still scheduled to be reduced to two lanes but not for at least 18 months.
The city and the New Jersey Department of Transportation came to an agreement several months ago to reconfigure the street into one lane in each direction with a center turning lane when the street is repaved next year.
The new configuration is called the Road Diet.
For the past several months New Jersey American Water has been installing new water mains in preparation for the repaving.
City Transportation Manager Michael Manzella said the underground water mains are nearing completion but the service connectors from the main lines have to be done before the above ground work starts.
He said he believed the contract is set to go out to bid through the DOT by next month and once a contractor is selected the work will begin in early spring.
However, the finished project will not be road ready until late 2019, he said.
The curbs at the intersections which will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, will be installed first along with curbing and electrical work by JCP&L for the traffic signals.
Then the base paving and milling will be done before the final overlay.
Once all the paving is complete, the street will be lined in yellow with the new configuration.
As part of the city’s agreement with the DOT the new configuration is being done on a trial basis with council having the option to have the lanes reverted back to the current configuration.
Reactions from Main Street businesses is mixed.
“I think it poses its problems but I think it will certainly clean up Main Street,” said Travis Newarski, manager at the Conover Agency located at the of Main Street and Cookman Avenue.
“Congestion could be a problem even though there will be a turning lane…with the influx of people coming into town. It works in Avon but we’ll have to see,” he said.
Jeff De Montmorency owner of La Parisian Dry Cleaners on Main Street said he supports the change.
“Well, I think it’s an adjustment that we all have to make to acclimate to i,” he said. “And I think it’s all for the best. I am in support of it and think it’s good for small business owners. It will revitalize Main Street.”
Mayor John Moor, who was initially not in favor of the reconfiguration now says, “All reports say that the slower the traffic, the better it is for business.”
Moor said when the project goes out to bid by the DOT, they will put in the specifications how long the trial period will be.
Jared McClary, manager of Asbury Park Cyclery on Main Street, worked on the redesign efforts and is looking forward to its completion.
“I’m actually taking part in the redesign…any improvement to the Main Street is going to have a huge benefit to safety,” he said.
He also said he doesn’t think enough attention was given to the sidewalks where many people are riding because the street is so dangerous.
McClary said he knows of two people who have recently been hit by cyclists while walking. He said he was involved in a similar project in his hometown of Concord, New Hampshire and said the end result was a success.
“The redesign was beautiful; there is a benefit,” he said.
McClary was involved in many of the meetings regarding the road diet and said beautification of Main Street will be an added benefit.
“It’s an eyesore that needs to be cleaned up,” he said.
Joseph Maggio, owner of Frank’s Deli on Main Street, had a wait and see approach, although he doesn’t think it will work.
“Who’s going to know till they try something?” he said.
But he also said with truck deliveries and the amount of traffic, he’s doubtful.
“It’s not like Avon, they have one fifth the amount of cars we have,” he said.
Maggio is glad the state is only using painted lines instead of dividers during the trials, making it easier to go back to the original lines.
“I don’t know we’ll have to wait and see,” he said.