Long Beach Blvd. speed limit changes planned
By ZACH PATBERG Staff Writer, (609) 978-2010
Published: Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Updated: Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Freeholders are expected to pass an ordinance today approving state recommendations to modify the speed limits along Long Beach Boulevard in certain areas for the summer season.

The changes, of 5 mph up or down, were determined through a study by the Department of Transportation upon request last year from the county, which had spent the last six months in talks with municipal officials. The new limits may be posted within a few weeks.

County Engineer Ron Lotrecchio could not provide specifics of where the adjustments would occur, but said a majority of the speed zones would remain the same. In Long Beach Township, Brant Beach and Loveladies, 35 mph zones on the boulevard will go up to 40, according to Lt. Paul Vereb, the township's traffic safety officer who has been involved in the negotiations.

The 30 mph section of the boulevard in Beach Haven's downtown will shrink, and the 35 mph areas to the north and south will expand.

Beach Haven Mayor Thomas Stuart said it was crucial to remain at lower speeds than in Long Beach Township since the borough has much more foot traffic in tourist areas such as Bay Village and Fantasy Island.

“We attract all the pedestrians,” he said.

The 30 and 35 mph limits in Harvey Cedars should stay unchanged, though its mayor, Jonathan Oldham, said he thought the increase to 40 mph in flanking Loveladies and North Beach will cause his borough to become an unfair speed trap for unsuspecting out-of-towners.

Long Beach Mayor Dianne Gove described the new set of limits as starting with 35 mph at the commercial hub in Beach Haven, then rising to 40 mph through the township before dropping back to 35 in Ship Bottom. The limit would again rise to 40 mph in North Beach and Loveladies, both of which have divided highways.

Gove said she hoped the higher speed limit would persuade more
drivers to travel on the boulevard and thus leave the 25-mph Beach Boulevard to the bicyclists and joggers.

Vereb said the DOT conducts a study every 10 to 15 years in which it derives a new speed limit recommendation by averaging the speeds of a large pool of passing cars after shaving off the fastest 15 percent.

The agency's most recent recommendation last year was based on averaging speeds during a weekday. This, however, produced lopsided results, Vereb said, since traffic moved faster at that time than during the weekend when an influx of tourists made for more congested driving.

A weekend test would be a better gage of traffic flow since it's then that the island is in full swing, according to Vereb.

“We'd really like to see (DOT) do it on a true scale of what we have here,” he said, adding that ideally police would appreciate no speed limit increases.

The county ordinance applies only to the summer months. The higher speed limits in the winter will stay the same, Lotrecchio said.

Once the freeholders pass the ordinance it is sent to the DOT for approval, after which county workers will replace the speed limit signs, according to DOT spokeswoman Erin Phalon.

Vereb said they should be in place within one or two weeks. Lotrecchio was slightly less committal.

“We recognize that we're coming into the summer season and will try to have these changes ready before too long,” he said.

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