Ship Bottom — Long before the summer season arrived on Long Beach Island, the debate about changes to its gateway corridor and the impact they would have on traffic reached crescendo levels across social media platforms, in local businesses and among neighbors.
The uptick in traffic congestion and parking snarls leaves little doubt there were some hard lessons learned this summer, and Ship Bottom officials are hopeful new measures will address these concerns.
The Ship Bottom Borough Council in its last meeting of summer introduced two ordinances that could help alleviate some of the issues in the area of Eighth Street just west of where it intersects with Barnegat Avenue.
Ordinance 2019-18 proposes to prohibit parking between the ReMax/Dunkin’ Donuts property and Hotel LBI on the service road for approximately 430 feet to the westerly line of the service road. Regulatory and warning signs, which conform with official traffic control devices for streets and highways, as adopted by the state commissioner of transportation, are expected to be erected in the area.
In introducing the proposed measure Aug. 27, Mayor William Huelsenbeck said the curbs in the area have already been painted yellow and there wouldn’t be any parking permitted “probably forever.”
“The hotel has been very cooperative in letting the valets know not to park there,” Kathleen Flanagan, chief financial officer for the borough, said.
Under Ordinance 2019-19, access to the service road, also known as Access Road, from Eighth Street will be prohibited.
“No vehicle shall make a left turn from Eighth Street onto the Eighth Street Service Road or otherwise access or enter the Eighth Street service road from Eighth Street,” the proposed measure reads in part.
Motorists traveling north on Barnegat Avenue will still be able to make a left onto the service road, which runs parallel to the CVS drive-through. The access ban doesn’t impact motorists traveling south on Barnegat Avenue, who cross over Eighth Street and make a right onto the service road.
Signs about not accessing the service road from Eighth Street were removed by an employee of Hotel LBI, Huelsenbeck confirmed when asked by Council President Edward English. English called the removal of the signs “a blatant disregard for public safety.”
The area in question has always been an unofficial cut-through for motorists trying to get off the Island quicker than those sitting in traffic, but this year it escalated with drivers going over the grass easement, according to the mayor.
“People are going the wrong way on Barnegat Avenue,” Huelsenbeck has said of motorists who don’t want to sit in the traffic getting off the Island so they opt for what was once a shortcut to the outbound Causeway near CVS.
His comments stem from a discussion with residents of 10th Street who attended council meetings over concerns of speeding cars coming off the Causeway, down Shore Avenue and making the first available left onto their street.
Public hearings on Ordinance 2019-18 and Ordinance 2019-19 are slated for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 24 at the municipal building.
— Gina G. Scala