Improvements planned at routes 18, 516, 527


Staff Writer

OLD BRIDGE – A $29 million project to improve Route 18’s intersection with routes 527 and 516 is slated for a spring 2008 start.

The state Department of Transportation last week held a public information session on the proposal at the Old Bridge Public Library, and will continue accepting residents’ comments and questions on the road work through April.

“The project will link up Route 18 northbound with county routes 516 and 527,” said DOT spokeswoman Erin Phalon. “Those current movements are missing.”

Ramps would also be added from routes 527 and 516 to Route 18 southbound.

Local officials said more direct access to and from Route 18 is a necessity.

“Those improvements are needed,” Township Business Administrator Michael Jacobs said.

Routes 516 and 527 both meet up with Route 18 at the same point, but on separate sides.

At present, the partial cloverleaf traffic pattern requires drivers to take a more roundabout route and often results in cut-through traffic on local streets on either side of Route 18.

Other problems with existing conditions include the substandard vertical and horizontal geometry of routes 516 and 527, and a poorly functioning intersection at Route 516 and Old Matawan Road, according to information from the DOT.

In addition to adding new ramps, the project calls for replacing the overpass across Route 18 with a wider bridge.

Routes 516 and 527 would also be widened to accommodate the new interchange ramps.

The existing ramps would be realigned to better work with the new pattern.

The intersection of Route 516 and Old Matawan Road would be relocated to line up with Marsad Drive, and more lanes would be added to improve traffic flow at the intersection. The relocated traffic signal at the intersection will be coordinated with a new one at the end of a proposed ramp from Route 18 northbound.

Access to Miller Elementary School would also be improved, according to DOT materials, and noise walls would be added in the area to protect residents from unwanted sound.

Phalon said the project will improve traffic flow and safety, as well as ease of travel for bicyclists and pedestrians.

She said the plan is still in the early phases of design, and residents’ input is sought. Phalon said she was uncertain if there was any local opposition to the project, but said the DOT wants to hear any such concerns.

“We’ll certainly take those comments into account,” she said.

Jacobs said township officials have met with the DOT several times about the construction. He noted that residents did come forward with concerns, but they were mostly addressed through compromises made during those meetings.

Once a plan is fully designed, Phalon said, residents will again have an opportunity to comment.

For more information, call the DOT at (609) 530-6558.