Study outlines problems with Route 537 corridor

Staff Writer


Staff Writer

Results of a study of the Route 537 corridor will come as no surprise to those who travel on the county road — traffic is bad and it’s going to get worse.

"We knew that traffic was going to increase," said Matthew Sumpter, a senior Monmouth County planner and the project manager for the study. "You do the analysis because you want to know by how much."

The study pinpoints a number of trouble spots for motorists and pedestrians, both now and in the future.

"We learned where the hot spots really are," he said. "It enables us to hone in on the worst areas, what areas need the most immediate attention. It’s a tool for us to look to the future."

Some of "hot spots" involve areas of the road with the most collisions. They include:

• Route 537 overpass at I-195 and approaches.

• Route 537 at Burnt Tavern Road, Millstone Township.

• Route 537 at Gibson Place, Freehold Township.

• Route 537 overpass at Route 33 and approaches, Freehold Township.

• Route 537 at Trotters Way, Freehold Township.

• Route 537 at Village Center Drive, Freehold Township.

• Route 537 at Wemrock/Stillwells Corner roads, Freehold Township.

• Sunoco driveway at Routes 526/571, Jackson.

The high number of collisions on the road is a result of heavy traffic volume and high rates of speed, the study found.

"You have Great Adventure out there (in Jackson)," Sumpter said. "It brings people to the area who are not familiar with the road. You get a lot of fender benders out there."

Another problem is the natural configuration of the road.

"Route 537 does have a topography that alters," he said. "The county does what it can, but you can only do so much. You can’t move a hill. And people drive too fast, quite frankly. Add that all up and you end up with some problems."

Continuing development in the towns along the Route 537 corridor is one of the primary reasons for the congestion, he said.

The study also found a number of intersections with failing "levels of service" (LOS).

Levels of service is a way for engineers and planners to grade, or score an intersection or a segment of a road. The grades range from A to F, he said.

"If you have an A, you have no traffic issues," he said. "If you have an F, your capacity is exceeded and you end up with delays. Every intersection or road has a certain capacity. The level of service tells you how well it’s operating."

The intersections with the worst levels of service include:

• Route 537 at Stillwells Corner Road.

• Route 537 at Route 33.

• Route 537 at Village Center Drive.

• Route 537 at Route 522 (Throckmorton and West Main streets, Freehold Borough).

• Route 537 at Route 571.

The study also found limited public transportation to key work areas like the Freehold Raceway Mall and CentraState Medical Center and "undesirable" trans­portation facilities.

"It’s fairly limited at this point," Sumpter said. "As these developments are coming on board, we need to make sure to encourage there is transportation out there, particularly for the workers. Unfortunately, the traffic is what gets all the attention. But we have to provide other means of getting around."

NJ Transit is one of the members of the study’s technical advisory committee, said Sumpter.

"It’s their bus route," he said. "They have some degree of jurisdiction. They are involved in the study, so they are aware of it."

Planning Board officials also met with the major "stakeholders," the towns that border the Route 537 corridor, for the study, he said. The stakeholders include Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Manala­pan, Millstone, Jackson, Upper Freehold, Plumsted, CentraState Medical Center, Freehold Raceway Mall, Freehold Race­way, the Jackson factory outlet mall and Six Flags Great Adventure.

The study goals are to improve trans­portation access and congestion manage­ment along Route 537, identify land use and zoning changes, and maintain the quality of life for residents of Monmouth and Ocean counties, he said.