By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
MARGATE – Some residents may be confused about which direction to park their cars when the city again changes the direction of the flow of traffic on a section of Huntington Avenue.
According to Police Chief Matthew Hankinson, the change-over in the flow of traffic on Huntington Avenue will begin on Monday, Feb. 17 when children have the day off from school. It will be the second change in the flow of traffic on a section of the roadway over the last several months.
The changes are being made to make it safer for students of the city’s public schools to bike or walk to school in the Colmar Circle and surrounding areas. The city was the recipient of a $400,000 NJ Department of Transportation Safe Routes to Schools grant, which was funded through the Federal Highway Administration to make traffic improvements on Huntington and Gladstone Avenues between Amherst and Fulton avenues and on Amherst Avenue.
The improvements are based on recommendations of a 2015 School Travel Plan and the 2016 Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Plan, which encourages students to walk and ride their bikes to school, and to create a walkable and bikeable community. The intersections were cited as being problematic due to their confusing geometry and lack of pedestrian safety elements, such as skewed street pattern and large turning radius.
Over the last three months, changes to the intersections, which include installation of islands approaching Amherst Avenue and round-abouts at the Fulton Avenue intersection, has improved the flow of traffic for motorists, officials said. Enhanced crosswalks and installation of stop signs along Amherst Avenue took some getting used to, however.
According to Hankinson, the changes were designed to change driver behavior, which has been accomplished.
The city also changed the direction of traffic on Huntington Avenue one-way northbound (westward) from Ventnor to Amherst Avenue. The city thought funneling traffic away from the schools would help, but after viewing the changes over the last several months, Hankinson recommended it would be safer for traffic on the 100- and 200-blocks of Huntington Avenue to flow in the opposite direction, southbound (eastward) toward the beach.
There were no accidents caused by confused drivers during the switch-over, Hankinson said.
The city will make the conversion on Monday, blacking out and painting new stop lines and reversing signage. Hankinson said the city advertised the changes to the community on the city and Police Department websites and Facebook pages, and police distributed flyers to residents who live on the street.
“We should be able to complete it in one day,” he said, cautioning motorists to be vigilant about the change.
At least one resident has expressed vocal criticism to the Board of Commissioners about other implemented changes recommended in the Bicycle and Pedestrian safety plan.
Delavan Avenue resident Jodi Rosenberger has expressed objection to painting “sharrows” or Share the Road signs on the surfaces of Monmouth and Winchester avenues. The painted symbols replaced confusing vertical signage that said bicyclists could ride in the lane of traffic.
“As an avid cyclist myself, this bicycle symbol sends the tacit message that people are authorized, in fact, encouraged, to ride in the center of both streets and that multiple riders across are permitted,” she said.
She called the signs “ridiculous.”
She said the signs should be repainted closer to the curb line to prevent cyclist from riding in the middle of the roadway and hampering the flow of traffic.
“This alteration should be accomplished before March, because once the part-time residents and renters begin to descend, the opportunity will be gone forever,” she said.
She said if the city wants to help cyclists, it should install more bike racks.
In 2017, the city received a $275,000 joint-grant with Ventnor City to install bicycle racks in various locations. According to Atlantic County Department of Engineering, which is facilitating the grant, the racks will be installed in the fall of 2020.