Traffic Changes on LBI Signal Arrival of Summer Season

May 17, 2017
Photo by: Ryan Morrill The new traffic light on 38th Street in the Brant Beach section of Long Beach Township with another new light a few blocks north at 35th Street.

There is no doubt the summer season is in the air, and there is no bigger indicator than the annual traffic changes along the 18-mile, Island-wide thoroughfare known as Long Beach Boulevard. Traffic lights go from blinking to fully functioning Monday, May 22, five days before the beginning of Memorial Day weekend — the unofficial start of the summer season for most of the country.

“The most dreaded day of the year (on Long Beach Island) is when the traffic lights are turned on,” John Ernst, Ocean County engineer, said, “and the happiest day is when they are turned off – everyone that lives there tells us that.”

Locals and seasonal homeowners couldn’t have said it any better, and this year there will be additional traffic signals to contend with for everyone.

In the Brant Beach section of Long Beach Township, a new signal was built at 38th Street. It’s similar to last year’s edition at Dupont Avenue, also in Brant Beach, just a few blocks north of the municipal complex. A third traffic signal at Louisiana Court – still in Long Beach Township – will also be functional this year.

“They are timed to work together so you can get through several at a clip,” Ernst said, cautioning, “as long as you are going the proper speed limit.”

Although the turning on of the traffic signals is an annual event, it’s part of a larger county project, he said. The project includes upgrading a total of 23 traffic signals and improving existing crosswalks. It’s all about traffic flow and safely moving walkers and bikers across Long Beach Boulevard.

“It’s a safety improvement. We’re creating (traffic) gaps for pedestrians to cross in designated crosswalks,” Ernst said. “The signals are timed appropriately to give ample time for pedestrians crossing in the designated areas, and it’s important they cross at the crosswalks.”

The influx of summer traffic does play a role, but this project “was going to happen,” Ernst said.

“Traffic lights do age out,” he explained. “We’re building a system of signals that will be on their own poles (older signals in many cases were tied to utility poles). They have new controllers, new pedestrian push buttons.”

Some of the existing crosswalks will be re-marked for a more clear designation, while others will be made more handicap accessible, Ernst said.

The first official sign of the pending summer season is the lowering of speed limits along the length of Long Beach Boulevard, which was completed last week. In Ship Bottom and Surf City, the speed limit on Long Beach Boulevard is now 30 mph. Also in Surf City, the speed limit on Central Avenue was decreased to 35 mph. The speed limit in Long Beach Township was dropped from 45 mph to 35 mph on Long Beach Boulevard.

A reminder for all motorists: The speed limit on Barnegat Avenue in Ship Bottom is always 25 mph, which is also the speed limit on Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach Township. For those times when you’re not driving the car: Bicyclists must ride with traffic and obey all traffic signs and signals. When there are no sidewalks, pedestrians must walk facing traffic.

— Gina G. Scala

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