By PETE WALTON
Seventy years after land was acquired for road widening, Route 66 in Neptune and Ocean Township will expand to four traffic lanes, two in each direction.
The widening is scheduled to start in the fall of 2024 and completion is anticipated two years later.
The project involves two miles of Route 66 between Jumping Brook Road and the intersection with Bowne and Wayside roads to the east.
A roundabout will replace three traffic lights near the eastern intersection, where westbound traffic currently bears left to stay on Route 66 or veers to the right on Asbury Avenue and a northbound entrance to the Garden State Parkway.
The state Department of Transportation is proposing a 60 mph speed limit for the new four-lane section. Gradual curves will slow traffic approaching the roundabout, where the speed limit will be 20 mph and cars will share traffic lanes with bicycles.
The roundabout will be constructed to the north of the existing Route 66 roadway, minimizing the impact on traffic while the project is underway.
“The purpose of this project is to address pavement deficiencies, improve traffic operations and safety along the project corridor,” according to the DOT. “The land required for highway widening was acquired in the 1940s and subsequently, aerial utilities on poles and underground utilities were situated outside the future widening limits.”
The agency plans to remove concrete in the roadway “due to over 80 years of deterioration.”
The widened roadway will have a grass median and left-turn slots for major driveways.
“Full shoulders will be constructed in both travel directions along the project length, except approaching signalized intersections where the shoulders become exclusive right-turn lanes and in vicinity of the roundabout, making a majority of the Route 66 corridor bicycle compliant,” according to the state.
Additional turning lanes will be added at Jumping Brook Road on all approaches to improve traffic flow. The existing signal there will be upgraded to include new mast arms, signal heads, radar detection, and pedestrian countdown signal heads and push buttons. All intersections will be improved with upgraded crosswalks and curbs which are compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Green Grove Road signal will be upgraded in a similar fashion, with additional turning lanes, new signal hardware, and crosswalks and curb ramps for improved pedestrian movement.”
The Green Grove Road widening and sidewalk reconstruction will result in temporary grading impacts to Sunnyfield Park [at the southeast corner of the intersection],” the DOT says. The agency will need temporary access easements as part of the right-of-way acquisition process. Eighty parcels will be required for temporary or permanent easements or purchase.
A detention and infiltration basin is needed to address environmental requirements for water quality, water quantity and groundwater recharge. The basin will be located on vacant ground just east of Home Depot on the eastbound side of the road.
The comment period for the design phase of the project closes on Tues., Feb. 28. The official DOT public information presentation and a comment form can be accessed at: the732.com/66