GALLOWAY – Stan Smith was one of four residents of Seashore Elder Housing who came to the Township Council meeting Tuesday, Feb. 14 to let council know they are tired of traffic, inadequate traffic signals, poor road conditions and speeding drivers on Jimmie Leeds Road.
Seashore Elder Housing is part of Seashore Gardens Living Center at 22 W. Jimmie Leeds Road. Smith, 80, moved to the apartment complex five years ago from Ocean City, where he lived for 20 years.
He said during the public portion of the meeting that he enjoys the community and neighbors, but every time he goes to the store or takes a ride with his son when he comes to visit, there are issues.
“My concern is trying to make a left-hand turn into the facility. We sit and we sit there. I go the speed limit and I have fools behind me blowing the horn,” Smith said. “Someone is going to get hit or sideswiped.”
Mayor Don Purdy said that Jimmie Leeds Road, a busy stretch of road near the hospital, university, restaurants and businesses, is the responsibility of Atlantic County and that there is a project to widen the road.
He said township engineer Vince Polistina brought the township’s concerns to the county and said the current traffic patterns are not working.
“The township engineer is working with the county about improving the area,” he said.
Purdy said he would be speaking with Polistina this week about the project, and he wants to make sure the county is aware of the township’s concerns.
Linda Gilmore, spokeswoman for Atlantic County, said via email that the county installed a crosswalk on Jimmie Leeds Road in 2015. She said the widening project for portions of the road near Seashore Gardens, which would also include sidewalks, is pending right-of-way and Pinelands approvals.
She said county road crews address potholes almost every day, weather permitting, on the more than 370 miles of county roads.
The county has two new pieces of equipment to specifically address potholes with hot patching, which typically lasts longer than cold patches.
Smith attended the meeting with neighbors Mary Gans, Chester Morton and Pat Bowers.
He said in a phone interview Wednesday that they got tired of hearing people say nothing would be done to make Jimmie Leeds Road safer.
“We said, ‘Let’s go to this council meeting and see if we could get somewhere.’ Everyone says they won’t do anything, but if you don’t speak up, nothing will get done,” Smith said.
“It is a heavily trafficked road from Route 9 to Route 30,” he continued. “Everybody is in a hurry. If someone would just slow down and let you out, that would make it a lot better.”
He said once the project gets underway he is hoping traffic flow will improve and driving will be a bit easier and a lot safer.
“The way it is now, it is dangerous.”
He said he jokes with friends that after driving on the bumpy road, he goes back to pick up car parts.
“It is really tough on a car,” Smith said.
Martin H. Klein, president and chief executive officer of Seashore Gardens, said in a phone interview Wednesday, Feb. 15 that he told residents if they have traffic concerns to speak up, which is exactly what Smith did.
Klein said about five years ago Seashore Gardens hired a lawyer and went to the township to discuss the traffic on Jimmie Leeds Road and what could be done to improve the area and make it safer. Years later with little done to rectify the problem and it becoming busier, Klein said it is time to do something about it.
“We are in a densely trafficked area – especially in the commuter times of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.,” Klein said. “Many of our staff has to make a U-turn because making a left turn is like playing Russian roulette.”
He said nothing got done after talks with the township. However, he said, he realizes it is a county road and road improvements cost a great deal of money.
“It is a matter of the county and the township getting together and saying ‘Listen. Let’s get this road fixed,” Klein said.
Road hazards including potholes can be reported at aclink.org/publicworks or by calling 609-645-5876, or after hours 909-7200.
Email Madelaine Vitale at firstname.lastname@example.org.