Ocean County officials have appropriated $2 million by way of a bond measure to begin work on a number of significant safety and traffic flow improvements at an oft-clogged intersection in Toms River’s Silverton section.
The project centers on the intersection of Hooper Avenue and Kettle Creek Road (and Church Road), the site of a major bottleneck as traffic passes the border between Toms River and Brick townships. According to county data, an average of 39,666 vehicles pass through the intersection each day. The project will include an expansion of the intersection, new lanes and safety features.
“The purpose of this project is to improve the overall performance and safety of the intersection for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic,” said Assistant Ocean County Engineer Mark F. Jehnke, adding that the goal is to “reduce the severity and the amount of crashes” and make the overall intersection more accessible.
The infamous bottleneck near the municipal border isn’t just inconvenient, but dangerous, officials say. In addition to the nearly 40,000 cars that pass through the intersection going north and south, another 12,494 cross east and west from Kettle Creek/Church roads.
“In the southbound direction, there is traffic backing up during peak hours,” said Jehnke. “This traffic backup creates conflict points which leads to collisions.”
To improve the intersection, the county will be adding a thru-lane and a right-turn lane on southbound Hooper Avenue approaching Church Road from Brick Township, as well as constructing an additional westbound lane on Church Road, which will be widened. The existing right-turn-only lane on westbound Kettle Creek Road approaching Hooper Avenue will be modified to a combination thru/right-turn lane to match the added receiving lane on Church Road. Updated signal timings for the intersection are proposed to accommodate the new equipment as well as projected vehicle travel growth.
Jehnke said the intersection will also be improved with updated and modernized pedestrian amenities at all four corners, the timing of the traffic signals will be updated and “cross cushions” will be installed on the Jersey barriers that are currently exposed, leading to more dangerous crashes when they occur.
“There are several adjacent businesses and multiple access points around the project area,” said Jehnke, making the project particularly complex.
Construction on the project, which is in the final stages of design right now, is not due to begin until the summer of 2024. The Ocean County Commissioners voted in favor of setting aside $2 million, $1,801,939 of which will come through as a bond measure that will be partially reimbursed by the state, at its meeting last week.
Construction is expected to take one year, with completion expected in the summer of 2025.