This past Saturday night I was returning home by car from a bike trip to Island Beach State Park. However driving north on Rt. 35 at 9 p.m. was an exceptionally unnerving experience even despite traveling below the 35 mph speed limit much of the time. Roadway conditions were poor and the street lighting just as bad. In many places the roadway, particularly the shoulder, was ill-defined and, in most places, exceptionally wide. Overall the original roadway design seems more appropriate for a highway with scattered commercial strip mall development and 50 mph speeds than a street with downtown-style stores interspersed with residential homes and HEAVY pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
And talk of pedestrian and bicycle traffic! It was everywhere and coming from every conceivable direction. This was particularly true in the Lavallette and Ortley Beach areas. Despite the volumes of bike and pedestrian traffic facilities for them were extremely minimal and often in poor condition. Bike lanes are nonexistent and even sidewalks were intermittent. Bicyclists came from every direction with only one of over a hundred having any lights even though it was completely dark by this time. Pedestrians were also hard to see, including ones making every effort to use the marked crosswalks. Local authorities did try to help pedestrians by placing construction barrels in the roadway to accent crosswalks but at night this seemed (to me at least) to cause more confusion.
Now the reason why I bring this up is that Rt. 35 is a state highway and it my best understanding that it is entirely within NJDOT’s jurisdiction. With repairs coming soon at some point it is time for NJDOT to step up and come up with a Context Sensitive Solution for this highway that suits the needs of all roadway users and increases safety for all.