By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
During the busy summer tourism season, cars, trucks, bicycles and pedestrians all share space on Ocean City’s congested roadways.
The results can be tragic. A 21-year-old woman from New Hope, Pa., was struck by a car on Aug. 11, 2021, at the intersection of 26th Street and West Avenue. She died from her injuries two days later.
Hoping to improve safety on some of the most heavily traveled roads, Ocean City is asking Cape May County to install flashing crosswalk signs at seven intersections to help pedestrians navigate their way.
City Council approved a resolution at its meeting Thursday to formally request the county to place the signs at five intersections on Bay Avenue and two on West Avenue. Bay Avenue and parts of West Avenue in Ocean City are owned and controlled by the county.
The intersections include:
- 3rd Street and Bay Avenue
- 15th Street and Bay Avenue
- 17th Street and Bay Avenue
- 26th Street and Bay Avenue
- 30th Street and Bay Avenue
- 36th Street and West Avenue
- 54th Street and West Avenue
The Ocean City Police Department identified those intersections as prime areas for crosswalk signs, which are among a number of “traffic calming measures” to help improve safety, Police Chief Jay Prettyman said.
“One of the traffic calming measures that have been identified and has proven to help pedestrians navigate our crowded roadways is flashing crosswalk signs. These types of highly visible signs have been previously installed at busy intersections and greatly assist pedestrian movement across busy roads,” Prettyman wrote in a memo included in the Council agenda.
City Business Administrator George Savastano said the city hopes that the flashing crosswalk signs will be ready at all seven intersections in time for the summer vacation season.
“The objective is to get this done by summer, but that’s not guaranteed,” Savastano said in an interview after the Council meeting.
In other business at the meeting, Mayor Jay Gillian announced that the city has secured an additional $400,000 in funding from the New Jersey Department of Transportation to help pay for the cost of the dredging of sediment-choked lagoons along the back bays. Altogether, the NJDOT will contribute a little more than $1.7 million for the dredging project.
Gillian and Savastano credited ACT Engineers, the city’s engineering and environmental consultant, for securing the additional NJDOT funding.
“I want to thank ACT Engineers for their work to renew our island-wide dredging permit for another five years and for their continuing efforts in securing state funding for Ocean City,” Gillian said in a statement.
In all, the cost of the city’s dredging project this winter will be $2.9 million, Savastano said. The money kicked in by the NJDOT means that the state will pay for most of the cost.
“It’s a good deal,” Savastano said of the benefit to the city.
Each year, the city clears muddy sediment from the lagoons and channels to improve safety, make it easier for boaters to navigate the waterways and help out the bayfront marinas.
Gillian credits a robust multiyear, multimillion-dollar dredging program with providing clear channels for homeowners, vacationers, boaters, owners of marinas and other businesses to enjoy.
Areas that are being dredged this winter through March include North Point Lagoon, bayfront at 7th Street and 8th Street, Snug Harbor, Glen Cove, the bayfront along Glenwood Drive, Clubhouse/Bluefish Lagoons and the adjacent channel.
The NJDOT is helping to fund a large share of the cost because some of the channels next to the North Point Lagoon, by the Ocean City Yacht Club and U.S. Coast Guard station, are under the state’s control.
The additional $400,000 in funding from the NJDOT will be invested into the project by dredging two feet deeper in Ocean City Lagoon, Clubhouse Lagoon and Bluefish Lagoon, and by adding the bay areas at the ends of 7th Street and 8th Street, Gillian said.
Thursday’s Council meeting was held at 6 p.m., an hour earlier than the usual start time. Council meetings will now be held at 6 p.m. throughout the rest of the year, unless otherwise noted.
“It’s an experiment,” Council President Pete Madden said of the time switch. “Nothing is set in stone. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, we’ll adapt.”