To the Editor
I am writing to correct a serious error in your Feb 16 article regarding the proposed Boulevard layout in Harvey Cedars. In the caption for the picture you incorrectly state the proposed Boulevard lane configuration. We do not want the roadway to be “1 lane with 2 turning lanes”, in fact just the opposite. Inaccuracies like this have lead to Barnegat Light Mayor Larson’s – and others’ – misguided fears over the proposed plan.
Mayor Larson’s resistance to the plan seems to center around 2 issues – 1) emergency vehicles getting stuck in traffic and 2) the transit time to for shoppers to get to his town. Let’s first address the emergency vehicles. Mayor Larson seems to profess that with the proposed plan one lane of pavement magically disappears. It does not. The Boulevard pavement remains as wide as it is today. In an emergency, motorists will do what they have always done – go to the edge of the pavement to allow for responders to pass. It could be logically argued that with a wider shoulder to pull onto, the road would open up faster than it does under the current layout.
In regards to transit time, while we applaud the Mayor for looking out for the well-being of the businesses in Barnegat Light, he seems to forget that the alternative plan on the table would increase transit time even more. To be clear, that alternative is to convert the current flashing lights into fully operating traffic signals, and possibly add more fixtures. The HCTA timed the average traffic light in Harvey Cedars and in Surf City at 35 seconds; get caught at just one light and you are already worse off than the current proposal. Ramp up the fixture count to 5 or 6 and think how long it will take to get home or go shopping on the northern end of the island.
It is important to note that while traffic lights are always there, peak traffic isn’t. After recording 2 sets of traffic counts at multiple locations in Harvey Cedars, the County-hired Stantec engineers used the peak number of vehicles at each location to be as conservative as possible so as to not underestimate the time it would take to transit Harvey Cedars on your way to Barnegat Light. The increase? 23 seconds. Is that really going to stop someone from heading there to shop?
The center turning lane plan makes sense for not only the citizens of Harvey Cedars but also for anyone who walks, jogs or bikes through town or tries to cross the Boulevard to get to and from the beach or a business. In their report the traffic engineers state that plans like the one proposed “tend to reduce vehicular speeds and improve safety for pedestrians (less travel lanes to cross) and bicycles (wider shoulders).” So we ask you Mayor Larson, do you think 23 seconds is more important than people’s safety?
It is time for politics and misinformation to stop getting in the way of public safety. Hopefully that “game” will end at the meeting between Ocean County officials and Mayor Jon Oldham on March 2nd.
Meanwhile, we invite residents, business owners and visitors to read the Stantec report at www.harveycedarstax.org.
On behalf of the Harvey Cedars Taxpayers Association,