A major proposal to extend Western Boulevard could impact Toms River Schools, school officials said.
The Toms River Regional Schools district has been meeting with project planners to see just how the extension of the roadway would affect Beachwood Elementary and Toms River Intermediate South.
The Beachwood Elementary school in particular is close enough to the project that it required the county to notify the school district. In turn, the school district has scheduled a series of meetings to see whether access to the school, bus routes, and other impacts could arise during the construction, said school officials.
The project is actually in Berkeley Township and is close to schools there too. But Toms River Regional school board member Mike Jedziniak, the chair of the district buildings and grounds committee, said Toms River Regional would like to know the affects the project would have, as it owns land that is adjacent to the proposal.
The project would also change traffic patterns in Beachwood, near the elementary and intermediate schools. Beachwood is one of four townships whose students attend Toms River Regional.
Toms River Regional has sent representatives to meet with the project consultants, Parsons Brinkerhoff, to further learn about impact to the Toms River Regional schools.
Parsons Brinkerhoff is the consulting firm due to complete a conceptual study to determine the impact of a Western Boulevard extension, said Jedziniak.
Educational Facilities Manager Ed Wagner has already met with Parsons Brinkerhoff and plans to follow up between December and March once the findings of their study are done, Jedziniak said.
Western and Veterans Boulevard Project Begins Friday
Traffic impact begins Friday elsewhere in the area, closer to Central Regional High School in Berkeley. On Veterans Boulevard, a summer project will begin but is unrelated to the proposed Western Boulevard extension.
The westbound portion of Veterans Boulevard between Central Regional High School and Western Boulevard will be closed to traffic starting on Friday to allow for the reconstruction of the roadway, Berkeley Police Lt. James Blair said.
"Starting Friday it will turn into a one-way road," he said. "It will only allow eastbound traffic between the between the high school and Western Boulevard."
The Ocean County Engineering Department has been moving utilities and doing prep work on the roadway for the past few weeks. But the actual reconstruction will begin on Friday, Blair said.
Motorists heading westbound can use a detour at Veterans Boulevard and Western Boulevard and take Western to Northern Boulevard to Grand Central Parkway, he said.
"Once they get to Grand Central, they can make a left that will take them to the high school, or a right if they want to get on the parkway," Blair said.
The detours will be in place 24 hours a day, for a minimum of two weeks, he said.
"It's not making a lot of people happy, but the only time they can do it is in the summer, so it doesn't disrupt school," Blair said.
The county has already installed temporary traffic signals at Western and Northern boulevards and Grand Central Parkway, he said.
"They will activate them when they close the road," Blair said. "They are blinking right now, so people will get used to them."
Ocean County's $1.67 million reconstruction project will widen the roadway, add an extra eastbound lane and smooth out dangerous curves, Ocean County Engineer Frank Scarantino has said.
More than 4,300 feet of roadway will be improved. A second eastbound lane will be added along the heavily traveled stretch, easing traffic for commuters who get off the Garden State Parkway at Exit 77 for the northern part of Lacey Township and Bayville.
Veterans Boulevard is also heavily used by traffic going to and from Central Regional High School and Middle School.
The project also calls for improvements to the road's curves - how they sit vertically and horizontally - to improve sight distances. Banking will also be added to improve the safety of how vehicles travel through them, Scarantino has said.
The roadway's shoulders will also be widened.
About 2,300 feet of drainage pipe, 25 drain structures and two stormwater infiltration basins will be built to address drainage issues and naturally filter the water that drains off the road before it reaches Barnegat Bay.