LAKE COMO, NJ — A revised traffic flow plan to relieve congestion and increase safety on Lake Como’s busiest streets during the summer has been unveiled by the Borough Council.
The governing body on June 13 introduced a measure aimed at reducing traffic problems on the east side of Main Street, where narrow two-way streets become packed with parked cars on both sides, causing gridlock and unsafe conditions when vehicles cannot pass easily in either direction.
Under the revised ordinance, the following traffic flow, signage and parking changes would be made each year from May 15 to September 15.
- On 18th Avenue, parking would be prohibited on the south side of the street from Main Street to New Bedford Road, beginning every Friday at 6 p.m. through Sunday until 6 p.m. Two-way traffic would continue until B Street, where one-way eastbound traffic would continue into Belmar to the beach. New Bedford would remain westbound to 18th Avenue with parking on both sides.
- On 17th Avenue, traffic would be one-way westbound from B Street to Main Street with parking permitted on both sides of the street. Additionally, a stop sign would be placed at the intersection of 17th Avenue and White Street, making that a three-way stop.
- Redmond Avenue would be one-way eastbound for its entire length with parking on both sides.
- 19th Avenue would be eastbound from Bradley Terrace to B Street, where there will be opposing “Do Not Enter” signs at the border with Belmar, forcing traffic to turn right on B Street. Parking would be permitted on both sides of 19th Avenue.
For the past several months, Belmar Police Chief Andrew Huisman has been working with Lake Como officials to develop a plan to improve the traffic flow and reduce speed on these west-to-east streets, which provide direct access to the Belmar beach.
“We’re relying on the police department to give us advice and direction, and that is where this ordinance is coming from,” said Mayor Brian Wilton.
During a public comment session before the ordinance’s introduction, Scott Rast of 17th Avenue, a former borough council member, expressed his concern that the traffic plan is not based on a professional traffic study. The last time such a review was conducted, he said, was in 2000 to 2001, and its findings contradict what is outlined in the latest plan. “It is not well thought-out. We will have more traffic because residents still have to get out,” he said, adding that the proposed plan would be sending traffic farther up 17th Avenue. “There is no (north-south) outlet, except E Street and Newman Street. I don’t see the sense (of the plan) without a profession opinion.”
When Councilman Douglas Witte questioned whether making Redmond Street one-way eastbound would increase beach-bound traffic on that street, Belmar Police Detective Captain Thomas Cox said it would be unlikely many beachgoers would change their current practice of using 18th, 16th or 10th Avenue in Belmar to head to the Belmar boardwalk.
Councilman Kevin Higgins said he plans on reviewing the final measure with South Belmar Fire Chief Ronald Whille to ensure all his concerns have been addressed in terms of emergency vehicle access.
A public hearing and final vote on the ordinance is scheduled for Wednesday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m. — just in time for the traditionally jam-packed Fourth of July holiday.
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