EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — The busy intersection of Blackman Road and Ocean Heights Avenue can be a challenge for drivers trying to make a left onto Ocean Heights.
At some times of day, traffic backs up along the township road, and drivers have learned to gun it when there is an opening, or find another route.
Help is on the way, with a county plan to install a light at the intersection. But that project may not get underway until 2019. Township officials would like to see it in place sooner.
The project was discussed at a recent Township Committee meeting, at which township Administrator Peter Miller lamented the delay.
“I agree with him,” county Executive Dennis Levinson said when contacted after the meeting. “We would like it to happen faster also, but we have to go through the permitting process. Welcome to New Jersey.”
The T-shaped intersection itself is simple, Levinson said, and would be a less complicated project than if it were a full intersection. But there are other issues complicating things, he said. For one, part of the affected area is wetlands, which have extensive protections. Also, a building next to the intersection is historic, which will require additional approvals from the state.
“This is the price of doing business in New Jersey,” Levinson said. “I would figure on going out to bid next year, and construction will start at the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019, depending on permitting.”
Along with a new light, the intersection will have a left turn lane on Blackman for those heading southeast on Ocean Heights. Levinson estimated the cost at $750,000 to $1 million, to be shared between the county and the township.
“It probably seems like a lot,” he said, but he said designing the project and obtaining the permits is a lengthy process.
The cost will be divided because Blackman is a township road, while Ocean Heights, which runs from Somers Point through Steelmanville into Hamilton Township, is a county road. The road forms part of the dividing line between Linwood and Somers Point.
Egg Harbor Township police looked at the number of accidents at the intersection, as well as waiting times at peak traffic hours, Levinson said. Both were an issue.
“That’s why we’re putting up a light there.”
At the Township Committee meeting Sept. 20, township officials said neighbors eagerly await the project. Many expected the work to have started already.
“It’s probably the most requested roadwork we’ve had in 20 years,” said Committeewoman Laura Pfrommer.