New sidewalks, curbs and bike lanes for Main Street
By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
Main Street in Asbury Park is being torn up bit by bit from north to south, but city officials are confident that when the $19 million project is complete in the fall of 2019 the inconvenience will have been worth it.
In the meantime, however, Mayor John Moor has major concerns about the workmanship and the lack of safety concerns by the workers.
No Asbury Park police have been asked to monitor the work sites. Because it is a state highway state troopers would have to be employed at the site but so far none have been assigned to the area.
Moor publicly expressed his dismay at the workmanship at a recent City Council meeting.
The mayor cited gaps left between the curbs and street at driveway curb cuts and general sloppiness.
“At the end of the day or on weekends there are pallets, dirt, broken up pavement and very little storm water management,” he said.
The mayor also said while work is being done at one intersection workers close down one lane, with cones, for six blocks.
City officials have asked city employees to take pictures of worksites and infractions.
“We want to have as much documentation as possible when we meet with the DOT on Sep. 4,” he said.
City Transportation Manger Michael Manzella, however, is optimistic.
“Even though we are going through some workmanship issues, we will have a brand new street with brand new sidewalks, curbs, bike lanes, lot’s of good stuff – and it will be a lot safer,” he said.
Manzella, this week, gave an update on the work being done on the Road Diet, as the new design is called.
Manzella said he, the city engineer and representatives from the New Jersey Department of Transportation have been holding bi-weekly meetings to discuss the project’s progress and acknowledged that the DOT is also not happy with the workmanship either.
“The DOT is just as hard on them,” Manzella said.
At the end of the work day intersections in particular are left with excess dirt, making it hard for pedestrians to navigate.
Work on the project is being done from the north at Deal Lake Drive going south to avoid the busier end of town during the summer months.
Currently curbs and intersections are being worked on with new traffic signals being installed.
So far the schedule has not been an issue and the project is on target.
Contractors have said they expect Deal Lake Drive to be completed by the end of 2018.
Main Street repaving is on target to be completed by the fall of 2019.
“They don’t want to pave during the summer months so if it’s not done by Memorial Day they will wait till the fall,” Manzella said.
Workers are obligated to fill in pot holes wherever they see them.
The road diet designates one driving lane in each direction with turning lanes at each intersection.
There will also be bike lanes in both directions.The issue of delivery trucks on Main Street is still being investigated.
“We are still trying to figure that out. We may put loading zones in certain areas,” Manzella said.
He also said one option would be to put a time limit on parking in certain spots near businesses.
“We could designate certain areas as no parking zones,” he said.
The road design will be done with yellow paint and will not have center island like Avon.
Another issue addressed by the Road Diet is safety.
Manzella provided figures showing a three year span from 2015 to 2017 there were 262 collisions involving cars, bicycles and pedestrians, with 66 of those causing injuries deemed moderate to incapacitated.
Manzella said looking at the entire span of Route 71 shows the most incidents are in Asbury Park.
“We have a lot of crashes,” he said.
He said the turning lanes, which will be at each intersection, will eliminate side swipe accidents.