Letter: Solutions to Toms River transportation issues requires cooperation of NJDOT
Traffic congestion continues to plague not only Toms River but all of Ocean County. The solutions to this issue are multifaceted and require the cooperation of several State agencies- New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and New Jersey Transit (NJT). Toms River has experienced rapid population increases over the last 50 years growing from a rural community of 15,000 residents to a city of over 97,000. Toms River is the seventh largest city in New Jersey and is designated as an urban area. The only State highways that connect Toms River and Northern Ocean County with the New York and Philadelphia Metropolitan areas are two lane highways- Route 9 and Route 70. Currently both of these highways cannot handle the traffic volume and need to be widened. The Township is working with the NJDOT to pursue plans to widen both roadways to accommodate the increased traffic. The Toms River Planning Board has increased the setbacks on properties being redeveloped on Route 9 to allow for 4 lanes of traffic with a center median. We need NJDOT to commit to formulating a plan for the widening of Route 9 and partner with the Township to accomplish that goal.
Residents of Toms River have only one choice for mass transportation- New Jersey Transit Bus Service. Over the past 5 years our residents have been faced with a 50% increase in bus fees. In addition the tolls on the Garden State Parkway have been increased by 100% over the last year. We need to explore rail service options to connect Toms River with the Northeast Corridor. There have been numerous studies of routes for a Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex (MOM) rail line that would connect to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Hearings on the proposed routes have met with community opposition and limited progress on the plan. We need to look for alternative cost effective options. One option which would address the needs of our residents and those of Northern Ocean County would be re-activation of passenger service on the freight line that connects Lakehurst to Red Bank and the North Jersey Coast Rail Line. This would provide residents with rail service to Newark’s Penn Station and the Amtrak Northeast Corridor and New York’s Penn Station. This would be a cost effective solution and give our residents additional commuting options.
Traffic congestion issues that face our community are daunting but are not insurmountable with proper planning, execution and cooperation between the State and local government.
Councilman Ward 3