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Maybe We Should Keep This To Ourselves

A locals guide to avoiding the inevitable traffic. But try not to let the secret out

Summertime at the Shore: Beach.  Tourists. Traffic. 

If you don't know what I'm talking about, just take a trip down Route 37 East around 5:30 p.m. on a Friday in July. Then tell me how you feel about it.

In all seriousness, tourism is great for our local economy, but if you live in Toms River, avoiding traffic sometimes may seem like an impossible task. I may regret publishing this list on the Internet, but there are a few routes that all locals need to know in order to survive another summer at the Jersey Shore.

 Just do me a favor, don't tell the tourists about these routes.

ROUTE 9:

Route 9 serves as a great alternate to the Garden State Parkway.

You'll think to yourself, how can a one-lane road move quicker than the 3-lane-highway?  But I say: Just compare the roadways over on a holiday weekend.

Yes, there are traffic lights, local traffic, and even shopping center issues on Route 9, but if there's an accident on the parkway, the switch is worth it.  

I've seen its success. Last summer a trip from Manahawkin to Toms River on a Sunday evening around 4 p.m. took me about 35 minutes on Route 9. This same journey took a relative over an hour on the parkway.

ROUTE 539:

Driving through the Pine Barrens can save time, if needed. Route 539 runs almost 54 miles from Main Street in Tuckerton to Route 130 in Cranbury Township.

For starters, this is a great route to take if you're tired of seeing the commercial hustle and bustle of the Jersey Shore.  And, although the scenic tour is a plus, perhaps it's more important to note that it can help you to avoid a large chunk of the parkway through the heavily wooded areas.

If you're headed to a South Jersey beach from North Jersey, consider getting off of the New Jersey Turnpike at Exit 7A, and using Route 539. You can rejoin the parkway at Exit 58.

In Ocean County, CR-539 goes through Tuckerton, Stafford Twp, Barnegat, Lacey, Whiting, and Manchester.

ROUTE 35

Having a barrier island can be tough because it means that there is only one way in and one way out of the Jersey Shore towns. Now if we could only give the cast of Jersey Shore a one-way ticket home, we'd be perfect.

This may sound outrageous, but do not forget about Route 35.

If you're on the barrier island: listen to a traffic report. At high traffic times, Route 37 in Toms River can back up for at least 7 miles from the Mathis Bridge to the Garden State Parkway. 

If that's backed up, and you're headed north, consider this: Travel north on Route 35, and take the Herbert Street Bridge. Sure, there's Point Pleasant and Brick traffic to deal with, but it may save time (especially if you live in the northern sections of Toms River).

GREAT ADVENTURE ALTERNATIVE:

I have a good route to offer you if you're going to brave the roller coasters, water slides, or animals of Six Flags in Jackson. I have, however, found that more people are aware of this route in recent years.

Since most use Interstate 195 to reach Great Adventure, try this route instead:

Take Route 9 to County Route 571 (heading west). Bear left onto Toms River Road/County Road 526. (It ultimately becomes 571 again too, apparently?) Right after you cross over I-195, turn left onto Route 537, and you're set.

It really isn't a short cut, but the perk is that it's pretty rural. Just be conscious of your cars odometer, becuase it's really tempting to speed on this route.

Let us know what your favorite traffic alternatives are.

Alan K May 09, 2011 at 10:18 AM
People must have a hard time keeping secrets. All of the old "shortcuts" are almost gone. New Hampshire Ave used to be a great way to avoid traffic. Now, it too is full of cars. There are still alternatives, but since we're on the web, I hate to divulge them.
Catherine Galioto (Editor) May 09, 2011 at 11:46 AM
After my experiences driving on Route 37 this weekend I've already vowed to start using my own back way routes over Route 37
BN May 09, 2011 at 12:35 PM
I was in the New Egypt/Cream Ridge area this weekend on the way to Veteran's Cemetery. The traffic was unbelievable! As I drove along routes 528, 539, and Monmouth Rd., I couldn't help but reminisce about when this area was considered "the sticks". Not that it compares to RT37 on a Friday in the summer, but this area is FARMland. I guess that as the roads get more and more congested, people choose to burn gas taking alternate routes as a means to getting to their destination on time. A GPS unit with re-route capabilities is a must these days. As far as RT37 goes, it's just plain out of control. A few of my pet peeves: swerving in and out of traffic, cutting people off, running red lights, attempting to turn left when it's clearly marked "no left turn", tossing trash and cigarettes out the window, use of the shoulder as a personal lane, and laying on the horn because the car in front of you is not making a right turn at a "no right on red" intersection. Then there is my all-time personal favorite....the driver of the last car in a jughandle who has stopped all traffic flow because they are blocking the FIRST car in the jughandle. (RT37 &166). ...and don't get me started on the kids blasting their rap, hip-hop, techno garbage music or soccer moms in minivans watching the backseat more than the road ahead of them! Off my soapbox for now....
Roy R May 09, 2011 at 02:23 PM
It's funny because I've used every single one of these alternate routes to either get home or to another destination, with minimal traffic interference. Definitely a good guide. You don't have to wait until 5:30pm in July for Rt. 37 to get bad. As soon as the summer season starts, every Friday night, Saturday morning and night, and every Sunday Rt 37 E is just an absolute atrocity. Being that I live so close to the bridge entrance to Seaside, I see it a lot more often than I'd like. But because I live here, I know all the neat back roads and detours to get onto the island whilst avoiding most of the traffic.
Joseph Hyer May 09, 2011 at 09:20 PM
At an old retail job that I held people used to ask for shortcuts off of Route 37 a lot. I once told somebody, use a map or GPS system. They're great for it. ... Maybe we can keep the TRULY best routes to ourselves, right?
Joseph Hyer May 09, 2011 at 09:27 PM
It's amazing how the traffic started this weekend. Last night I traveled the GSP at 10 pm, and the traffic was steady to say the least!
Greg Marino May 11, 2011 at 10:57 PM
Do what I did in 1980... ...move to North Carolina
Bobbielyn Harrsch August 12, 2011 at 07:16 AM
@ Greg Marino are you offering to pay the expense, provide the transportation? lol

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