LAKE COMO, NJ — The traffic pattern on Lake Como’s busiest eastside streets will soon change for the rest of the summer.
The borough council on June 28 unanimously approved a revised traffic flow plan that is designed to reduce congestion and increase safety primarily in the area of 18th and 17th Avenues, which provide direct east-west access to Belmar’s beach. Each summer, these 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.
While the new rules will take effect annually from May 15 to September 15, they will be implemented this summer as soon as they meet statutory requirements for publication and new signage is installed.
Under the revised ordinance, these are the seasonal traffic flow, signage and parking changes for the four-month period:
Since less than two months will remain when the new regulations take effect, borough officials said that should give them enough time to evaluate the rules before the start of next summer. “Let’s see how it works out, and then we can work on (whether the regulations need further revision) for the next season,” said Mayor Brian Wilton.
Belmar Police Chief Andrew Huisman, who developed the new traffic pattern plan based on months of first-hand evaluation, concurred: “This is something we should try to see how it works out in relieving the traffic issues we’ve been having. After two months, we can go back to the drawing board.”
During the public hearing before the rules were adopted, several residents expressed concern over the intersection of 19th Avenue and B Street, where one-way eastbound traffic from Lake Como will meet one-way westbound traffic from Belmar — requiring opposing “Do Not Enter” signs to be posted by both municipalities at that border. With the late-night bar traffic traveling from Ocean Avenue to Main Street, “you’re heading into a disaster,” said Robert Rumsby of 18th Avenue.
Peter Piro of North Boulevard in Belmar said that by making drivers turn right from 19th Avenue onto B Street and then onto North Boulevard will only compound problems he has getting to his home when streets are barricaded during charity runs and walks. “With a multipoint turn at 19th and B, you will only create more chaos during these runs,” he said.
Borough Councilman Kevin Higgins assured him that despite the barricades, which also are placed at cross streets along 18th Avenue during charity runs, residents will be allowed to get through to their homes.
With the parking restrictions on the southbound side of 18th Avenue during the weekends, Rumsby expressed his concern that it will cause truck drivers in particular to “speed up” when traveling that portion of the roadway.
In response, borough officials said that traffic will be closely monitored by the Belmar Police Department in that area, as well as on 17th Avenue where the three-way stop will be placed at the intersection of White Street.
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