Residents in Strathmere are asking for more striped crosswalks along Commonwealth Avenue, the main road through the seashore section of Upper Township.

During the winter, one could stand in the middle of the avenue for 10 minutes or more without seeing a single car in either direction. But that changes dramatically each summer, when throngs of beachgoers, surfers and kayakers line both sides of the road.

Commonwealth Avenue resident Charles Vandegrift said the crosswalks are needed to remind drivers to slow down on the 40 mph road.

"I would like to see them every block or every other block," he said. "And signs to indicate that pedestrians have the right of way. We are concerned for the safety of the residents and visitors we have who come to town."

Cape May County Engineer Dale Foster said Strathmere is not alone in asking for more crosswalks. More are needed at many intersections in most resort towns where cars traveling north or south compete with beachgoers who are crossing east or west, he said.

"I have requests in just about every municipality: Cape May, Ocean City, Sea Isle City and the Wildwoods," he said. "We try to do them when we do road projects. That's how we got West Avenue in Ocean City."

Painting two parallel white lines may seem like a simple enough task, but Foster said even that has to be planned.

"I need warm days for the paint to adhere to the surface. The surface has to be dry," he said. "We can't put them in during the winter when it's cold. You can't put them in during the peak of summer because you can't close the roads. It's a matter of timing."

In Strathmere, crosswalks can be both impractical and dangerous because there are few sidewalks to give pedestrians a safe place to walk, he said.

"They're automatic at intersections. But the north end of Sea Isle and Strathmere don't have intersections but just paper streets," he said.

Upper Township Engineer Paul Dietrich said the solution this summer is to install free-standing pedestrian-crossing signs in the middle of the road at Whale Beach and in the heart of Strathmere, where foot traffic is heaviest.

Careful drivers often drive slower than the posted 35 and 40 mph speed limits in Strathmere during the summer, when they have to share the road with bicyclists, beachgoers and visitors who are unloading their cars, but not everyone drives so carefully, he said.

"Especially when they're coming off the Corsons Inlet Bridge, they're going pretty fast," Dietrich said. "By putting those signs up there this summer, hopefully that will help calm the traffic."

Foster said the free-standing signs work only as long as they last. Drivers sometimes hit the signs to avoid bicyclists or unpacking beachgoers.

"We put them in Sea Isle City, and within two weeks they were all destroyed," he said.

Contact Michael Miller:

609-463-6712

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