Come Friday, drivers will have a new road to get them around the intersection of Routes 166 and 571 in Toms River.
"Just in time for fans to use it to go see Ryan Howard playing for the (Lakewood) BlueClaws," quipped Freeholder John P. Kelly, joking about the timing of the completion of the project. Howard, a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, is playing for the BlueClaws for a few days as he returns to the major league club after an injury.
The connector road, named Lomell Lane in honor of Leonard G. "Bud" Lomell, the Ocean County resident and World War II hero who is known for his actions in the early hours of D-Day at Pointe du Hoc in Normandy, France.
The intersection of 166 and 571, just north of where Exit 83 deposited drivers onto Route 166, is one of the busiest in the county, handling 5,000 trips per hour, County Engineer Frank Scarantino said. Of those, 1,800 per hour involve a turn of some sort. The new connector road and the redesign of the interchange will allow traffic to flow more smoothly, and give drivers easier ways of reaching parts of Lakewood as well as the Ocean County Mall, Kelly said.
"This will take 800 of those turning trips out of that intersection," Scarantino said.
On the Route 166 and Lomell Lane intersection, the traffic light was activated Monday as a flashing light, part of the transition to a fully operational traffic light there on Friday.
With the opening of the road, traffic from Route 571 westbound can now hop on the parkway north or south at Lomell Lane, or they can proceed to Route 166 north or south and bypass the intersection of Routes 571 and 166.
Conversely, traffic from Route 166 can avoid the same intersection and proceed to Route 571 or Intermediate North Way via Lomell Lane.
A new traffic light at Intermediate North Way and Old Freehold Road is also now in place as part of the traffic changes.