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Route 166 Traffic Changes Planned near Route 37 Intersection

Route 166 corridor between Old Freehold and Highland Parkway will see concrete divider, new traffic lights

Changes at James Street and are just the latest in an ongoing traffic project on the state highway that will see a new traffic light, dividers and turning lanes for one of Toms River's busiest corridors.

A new traffic pattern made it illegal to turn left from Route 166 southbound onto James Street, the street across from one of the entrances.

Also, James Street traffic can only turn right to head north onto Route 166. You can't make a left turn onto Route 166 from James Street.

Planner Jay Lynch said the traffic changes are part of the State Department of Transportation project at the stretch of Route 166 between Old Freehold Road through Route 37 until the Highland Parkway.

Late last year, the roadwork began with the reconfiguration of Presidential Boulevard, to align with the end of Old Freehold Road. The James Street changes are the latest changes, but it won't be the last.

There's some buildings to be demolished near Gateway and Route 166, a traffic light to be installed at Highland Parkway and Route 166, and a concrete barrier dividing traffic near James Street through the Route 37 light.

Plans were approved in 2008 by the state DOT, according to documents filed at the Toms River Planners Office.

Continued Changes from Old Freehold Road to Route 37

Work realigning Presidential Boulevard and Old Freehold Road is complete. However, according to the state DOT project map, additional changes are in store for the road between Old Freehold and Route 37.

That will get the a concrete divide, called a "Jersey barrier" that will prevent pedestrians from crossing anywhere but a crosswalk. It would be similar to the one near Route 166 and 571 by the Parkway overpass, but concrete dividers along Route 166 or 9 in Toms River are still uncommon, Lynch said.

The divider would start at Old Freehold Road and continue to the Route 37 intersection.

Left turns from Route 166 north into the Crossroads Center are only allowed at the Presidential Boulevard intersection. A separate turning lane for traffic there is now in place.

While construction at that intersection was ongoing, police directed traffic into the plaza, allowing left turns into the shopping center at an entrance before the traffic light. However, that is now closed off, with traffic cones lining Route 166's center line.

That center line will be the spot of the concrete divider. Traffic can enter and exit the shopping center there only southbound.

Changes from Route 37 to Highland Parkway

Changes to Route 166, also known as Main Street south of Route 37, are approved at the shopping center entrance, at Gateway and at Highland Parkway.

Instead of a one-way entrance into the Town Center Shopping Center, the first entrance via Route 166 will become an exit, too, according to the state DOT plans.

The entrance that is directly in front of the will be closed and a new bus stop shelter will be placed there. 

The back entrance to the shopping plaza and Office Lounge, on Highland Parkway near Route 166, will remain.

According to the state DOT map, however, a new traffic light will go up at the intersection of Highland Parkway and Route 166.

In addition, the demolition of the car wash on the Gateway Boulevard side of Route 166 is scheduled.

James Street Traffic Change

Lynch said the most recent changes at James Street mean vehicles will likely use adjacent streets to get to where they once could by the now-illegal left turn.

"I'd imagine a lot of that traffic will be using Walnut Street, or the side streets," Lynch said.

Instead of turning left from James onto Route 166, drivers might consider using the many side streets on James, such as Boyd, to get to Route 37. If they intended to head south on Route 166, they could use the jughandle at Route 166.

Traffic that once turned from Route 166 onto James Street would likely instead turn onto Walnut Street, head toward Hooper Avenue, then turn onto James Street, Lynch said.

There is no road that runs parallel with Route 166 that connects Walnut and James before Hooper Avenue. With several apartment complexes lining both James and Walnut streets, only a parking lot with exits on both streets create a thruway, but that parking lot is not intended to serve local traffic. Signs are posted in the parking lot explaining the traffic rules.

No right turn ramp planned

Route 166 will be better defined with new traffic lines, according to the traffic map.

Southbound approaching Route 37, there will be two southbound lanes: the left lane would be 11 feet wide and other is 15 feet wide. Closer to Route 37, the right lane would be 10 feet wide.

That right lane will continue to be for traffic continuing south, or for traffic turning right onto Route 37 westbound. It will continue to be no turn on red there. 

Traffic hoping to turn right onto Route 37 westbound will still continue to the light to make their turn. No right turn exit ramp is planned for the intersection at this time, according to the DOT map.

Northbound Route 166 approaching Old Freehold Road will have a concrete divide separating it from southbound traffic.

Lanes approaching the Old Freehold Road light will be two lanes until after the motor vehicle inspection entrance. Then, a left turn lane for the plaza begins, and a right turn lane onto Old Freehold Road is in place.

Check out this article's photo gallery for images of the state DOT map of the Route 166 corridor.

DaveL February 01, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Looks fantastic and long overdue! When is all this going to begin?
Susan February 01, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Hope Hooper Ave and Rt 37 are next. That U-turn coming out by St. Joseph's is insane.
Scott February 01, 2012 at 03:05 PM
I wonder if the oil change place, next to the car wash is being demo too? I would hope not.
Catherine Galioto (Editor) February 01, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Hoping to add some more after talking to the township engineer today.
LiveinTR February 01, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Look at a Map. Across from Walnut St School is Park Crest Street (not a driveway) connects Walnut Street with James Street without going all the way to Hooper Ave
bayway mike February 01, 2012 at 09:12 PM
I'm guessing that The Office Lounge will lose a few parking spaces..166 will almost be right on top of that side of the restaurant..I love a little gas and diesel fumes with my salads, don't you??
Greg February 01, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Susan you and I think alike. But, if you listen to the Toms River Fire Commissioners of Fire District 1, Hooper and Hadley Avenues would have been the best place for the new fire house. Thank God the residents of fire district 1 saw the flaws in this logic and voted this project down. You couldn't have written a better script than this. But, then again you will only see this in Toms River! Please remember that there is a Fire Election on Saturday February 18th from 2 to 9.
Mike L February 02, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Dear DaveL, have you been on Old Freehold Road south bound and see the BIG FLASHING Sign that says YIELD to oncoming traffic. That traffic they a talking about is the EXIT from Shop Rite on Presidential Blvd. At that spot the only way for those on Old Freehold Road to go is turn on to Route 166, but yet they have to YIELD to the on coming trafic (which is exiting Presidential Blvd and going straight. You know that there will be a back up from Route 37 when summer starts and NO ONE will be able to move. Buy the way, the turn lane into Shop Rite on north #166 only holds 4 cars, wait to see the back up on thisroad for those going north on Route 166 and north on Old Freehold road.....Just go and stand at the corner of the burnt out buildings and the old Inspection Station.....GO LOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! at the Township, County, or State Engineers that thought up this fasico. Dandy Don should have been forced to give up the propery and should have moved Staple further in for the entra lanes that are needed on #166
Mike L February 02, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Hi Catherine, when you are with the engineer ask him when in the summer this is going to be done, you know everything done in this town is done at the inconvience of its people.....
Scott February 10, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Any updates?!?!?!
gracie allen February 17, 2012 at 08:53 PM
They need to lower the directional sign (the arrows) heading north on 166 in front of Attilios about one foot. Unless you drive an SUV this sign blocks the small stop light. It used to be a continuous green but now it turns red. I don't always see it until last minute because I drive a car, not a truck. Don't know if I like the idea of the cement barriers separating north and south. HHMMMMM
Brian Fitzpatrick February 24, 2012 at 11:26 PM
So, to keep a few pedestrians (and I mean a few...there aren't that many) from illegally crossing 166, and a couple of people who like to TRY to turn left onto 166 from James Street (which was nearly impossible during all but a few hours a day), we are now going to get construction which will surely screw up traffic, then a Jersey barrier which will funnel traffic into a jam, without any actual improvement in the traffic flow. Oh, and a traffic light at Highland Parkway which will back up traffic even more. No additional lanes, no improvement to the jug handle so the folks making a right onto 37 from southbound 166 don't have to compete with the people trying to go south on 166 from 37. Unbelievable.
Jackmehoffer February 25, 2012 at 04:20 AM
Am I understanding this correctly...If i'm going southbound on Route 9, i will not be able to make a left turn into the car wash, jewelry store or Rite Aid since there will be a barrier up? What in the hellllllllll!!!!???? Please tell me I'm misreading this! Am I going to have to cross route 37, take a "jughandle", since we're the only state that seems to use them, and then come all the way back, through that traffic, instead of being able to turn off route 9?? What dip#$# planner came up w/ this design???!!!

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