New traffic signals along Hooper Avenue in Toms River will eliminate the need for drivers to make U-turns to access two popular shopping centers, Ocean County officials said this week.
The changes will be made to allow traffic to turn left into the shopping centers south of Indian Hill Road.
“This change will provide full access to Hooper Avenue,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “The current traffic signals provide limited access to Hooper Avenue. The new traffic signal configuration will help motorists access both north and southbound Hooper Avenue and also will allow for the crossing of Hooper Avenue to the other shopping center.”
Freeholder Jack Kelly, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Engineering Department, directed the department to investigate the traffic signal at the two shopping centers anchored by Target and Lowes on the east side and Michael’s and DSW on the west in order to provide full access to Hooper Avenue.
“The Engineering Department has already developed a conceptual improvement plan for the signal to allow left turns onto Hooper Avenue from the shopping centers on each side of Hooper Avenue,” Kelly said. “This is a heavily traveled area of the Hooper Avenue corridor. We believe this change will have a positive outcome with traffic safety and accessibility.”
The shopping center on the east side of Hooper Avenue is called the Ocean Center and the west side shopping center is the Commons at Hooper.
In addition to hiring Dewberry Engineers Inc., of Bloomfield, a consultant to formalize the conceptual signal layout, the county also has talked to the shopping center owners who are on board with the changes, officials said.
In order to accommodate the new left turns from the shopping centers and the ability to cross Hooper Avenue in order to access the opposite shopping center, the median will be opened to accommodate the new traffic signal and configuration.
Currently motorists leaving the Ocean Center that want to go south on Hooper Avenue drive north to Indian Hill Road and then go south at the jughandle. Motorists leaving the Commons at Hooper shopping center need to proceed south to Bay Avenue to make the U-turn to access Hooper Avenue north.
“This should provide the shopping centers with better traffic flow making it easier for consumers to access the many stores located in both centers,” Vicari said. “Allowing access to both sides and both shopping centers should be beneficial to the businesses.”
The county expects the design to be completed by the end of the year with work commencing by the spring of 2018.