Plan To Improve Rts. 34 & 537
Story and photo by Joseph Sapia
Traffic flow at the often-congested intersection of Routes 34 and 537 will be improved with a major road project set to begin in January.
The three-year, $20 million project is expected to be completed by May 2019. Its scope includes the combination of added lanes for both through and turning traffic; replacement of two bridges over Mine Brook, a small adjacent waterway, one on each roadway; a replacement traffic light; and pedestrian improvements.
“It’s going to alleviate a heavy-congested area during a.m. and p.m. peak periods,” said Township Planner Timothy Anfuso.
Vince Domidion, a member of the township Environmental Commission and former chair of the Monmouth County Planning Board, said, “I think it’s a well thought-out project. It’s a reflection of traffic.”
The project is a joint effort of the state, which has jurisdiction over Route 34, and Monmouth County, which oversees Route 537. The project is estimated to cost $21 to $22 million – with the state providing 75 percent of the funding and the county 25 percent.
The county and state view the project as enhancing traffic movement and safety.
The project will extend along Route 34 from Merchants Way at the north to Delicious Orchards market at the south and on Route 537 from Heyers Mill Road at the west to Huddy’s tavern-restaurant at the east.
In this area, both roads are generally two lanes without dividers.
Besides having a through-lane in both directions, Route 34 has right-turn and left-turn lanes at the intersection. Route 537 simply has a through-lane in both directions.
Under the improvements:
- Route 34 will have northbound and southbound through-lanes, a left-turn lane and a right-turn lane – totaling four lanes – at the immediate intersection. Approaching the intersection, the roadway’s one lane will split into the two through-lanes and, then, taper to one lane after the intersection. Also, in the area of Delicious Orchards, Route 34 will have one lane for both left and right turns.
- Route 537 will have eastbound and westbound through lanes and one left-turn lane at the intersection. Approaching the intersection, the roadway’s one lane will split into the two through-lanes and, then, taper to one lane after the intersection.
- Crosswalks and sidewalks for pedestrians will be placed at the intersection.
- The Mine Brook bridge replacements will be on the far side of the Colts Neck Inn Hotel away from the intersection. The circa 1930s bridges are concrete, being replaced with concrete structures.
- Retention basins also will be added on either side of Route 537 east of Route 34.
Both roads will remain open during the project, according to county and state officials.
“The businesses will not be inconvenienced (during construction),” said Lillian G. Burry, owner of Colts Neck Realty, which is on Route 537 just west of the project area.
Burry is not only a local businessperson affected by the intersection, but she is a township resident, a member of the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders and a former member of the Township Committee.
“I’m very excited at the prospect this very needed project will be coming to fruition in the very near future,” Burry said.
The county and state held an information session on the project Wednesday, June 15, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Colts Neck Municipal Building.
“We’re excited for it,” said Chris McDonald, whose family owns Delicious Orchards. “There’s a lot of traffic. They needed a change. The added lanes will really help.”
“For residents and us, it’s a tough intersection,” said McDonald’s brother, Mike. “No one’s happy with it (now).”
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