Officials say state should inform public on changes to Black Horse Pike plans

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Laura Stetser/Construction along the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township is underway on Thursday, May 29. Laura Stetser/Construction along the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township is underway on Thursday, May 29.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – The long-standing plan to remove the many dangerous median cut-throughs and to add turn lanes at three key intersections along the Black Horse Pike has been altered, according to a letter sent to Egg Harbor Township officials on May 6, and local officials are calling on the state to host an updated public information session.

The letter from Department of Transportation Acting Assistant Commissioner John M. Case stated that the contract has been amended to call for only three turn lanes instead of the six initially outlined in the scope of work.

At Ridge, Tremont and Ivins avenues only one turn lane will be constructed instead, according to the letter.

The Ridge Avenue intersection will have a left-hand and U-turn lane from the Black Horse Pike eastbound lane. The Tremont Avenue intersection will have a left-hand and U-turn lane from the westbound lane. The Ivins Avenue intersection will have a left-hand and U-turn lane from the westbound lane.

Previous state plans called for the opposing lanes of travel to also have a turn at each of those intersections.

Assemblyman Chris Brown has also been working on behalf of Egg Harbor Township officials, pressing the New Jersey Department of Transportation to make changes to its project.

“We have to get this project right,” Brown said. “I am as frustrated as everyone else about how the project has unfolded.”

Most recently on May 28, he wrote the DOT, Brown asked the department to review the engineering design of the Route 40/322 project in light of concerns raised by township officials and local business owners. He said many business owners along the Black Horse Pike have been calling concerned about the impact the latest change will have on their operations.

“It still seems to me by working with the township and the business community, the DOT can make further changes that will benefit the state, Egg Harbor Township, and the business community as well as the residents of the township,” Brown wrote.

The state’s letter on May 6 came after township officials requested a delay in the work in March so that concerns over the safety of the lane designs could be examined.

“At this time, the project is in construction and the contractor was on hold pending the resolution of your concerns,” Case stated in the letter. “The NJDOT directed the contractor to return to work on April 4, 2014 and complete the changes described above. The department considers these median closures an immediate public safety issue: therefore, please understand our need to move forward immediately.”

“I continue to believe there is common ground that can satisfy everyone’s concerns,” Brown said. “We just have to keep working to find it.”

Brown was on hand at the Township Committee meeting on Wednesday, May 28 when the matter was discussed. Township Administrator Peter Miller said he felt the reduction of turn lanes was substantial enough to warrant a new public information session.

According to the DOT’s published Public Involvement Plan, the Federal Highway Administration requires that the department is required to provide the opportunity for another hearing if there are “substantial changes to proposals discussed at an earlier hearing,” or “an unusually long lapse of time since the last hearing.”

Public hearings were held in 2003 and 2006.

In a letter Miller sent to the DOT on May 23, he questioned how the DOT can move ahead without holding a new information session for the public.

“After 10 years of meetings between the NJDOT and township officials… to discuss this project, how does NJDOT change the project scope without public meetings to advise businesses and residents of their (initial) design flaw and unilateral change of the project?” Miller wrote.

The DOT did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Read more:

Officials frustrated over state's stance on Black Horse Pike project


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