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 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.
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.
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.