Active Transit Network
The Active Transit Network is being desined to create a safe, secure, and reliable network of pedestrian and bicycle paths that connect neighborhoods to schools, parks, places of worship, recreational facilities, shopping districts, etc. We want to build off of what has already been created in terms of the recreational trails in Palaia Park, and establish sidewalks, bike lanes, trails, etc. (whatever might be appropriate in a given location) that are used as a transportation alternative versus strictly for recreation.
In some areas, it may be as simple as installing sidewalks. For example, the areas around the three elementary schools have some sidewalks, but not a complete link that would allow children to safely walk and/or ride their bike to school. In these areas, it may be a combination of sidewalk construction and crosswalk enhancements that are needed to provide a safe transportation route.
In other areas, such as the major Highway 35 crossings (Sunset Avenue, Deal Road and West Park Avenue), it may be necessary to install more modern crosswalk devices, more clearly define the crosswalk area, and adjust the stoplight cycle to allow for safer pedestrian crossing. In neighborhood shopping areas it may be necessary to install traffic calming improvements such as corner bump-outs to reduce pedestrian crossing widths at intersections.
Finally, certain aspects of the project may require a combination of sidewalk construction, trail construction, and intersection improvements. For example, by creating a new crossing from Armstrong Boulevard to the Weltz Park area, it would then be possible to link into an existing trail system in Weltz Park, which would provide access to the pool complex, which could then be linked to the high school and the Dow Avenue school, which would then provide access to Palaia Park, which would then link to the library, etc.
The project will include a variety of improvements as well as an educational component in which residents will be fully informed of available trail systems and links that make non-vehicular transportation a safe, secure and viable option.
The planning phase of this project is being funded by a grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation – Office of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs. In terms of construction costs, the project is still in the conceptual stage at this point and no firm cost estimates have been established.
Ultimately, it is anticipated that the project will be funded through a combination of grants, both state and federal, and appropriations from the Township’s annual operating and capital budgets.
This is an extremely involved and challenging project that will take many years to complete. It will likely be broken up into several phases and will require cooperation and assistance from both the state and county and potentially private property owners. A more definitive answer regarding a timeframe for the project will be provided at the conclusion of the planning phase, but it is reasonable to expect a project such as this to take from 10-15 years to complete.
The project priorities will be decided at the completion of the planning phase following a significant amount of public input. However, based on early discussions there is a significant interest in using this project to ensure safe and reliable transportation networks for students to get to and from school, especially the elementary schools. Budget considerations routinely require schools to re-evaluate transportation policies and the existence of a safe alternative transportation system for students may enable the school district to scale back its current bussing program. In addition, there is an established grant program – Safe Route to Schools – that would provide a potential funding source for any improvements that encourage walking and biking to school. Based on these factors, it is likely that school area related improvements will receive priority consideration.
As a community, Ocean Township has many quality facilities for children and families such as Palaia Park, the library, the pool complex, etc. Unfortunately, the Township also has a significant amount of traffic congestion, especially during the summer months. Our goal is to provide an alternative transportation system that will allow residents to access these facilities without using a car and to strongly encourage residents to utilize this system on a regular basis.
This project will be challenging given the existence of obstacles such as Highway 35 and Route 18, but a commitment has been made to start the planning process in order to identify existing opportunities and challenges, create a reasonable timeline for project completion, and aggressively seek out state and federal grants for project funding.
Finally, upon the completion of the planning phase the Township will present its proposed transportation network to the Township Planning Board for consideration in all development/redevelopment applications as well as the Monmouth County Planning Board for inclusion in its Transportation Master Plan.
Click here to view our Active Transit Network Plan.