Is there a way through the environmental minefield and diverse local interests for Western Boulevard to snake its way from Northern Boulevard to Route 9 in Berkeley Township?
The federal government is putting up $550,000 to see if such a route can be found, according to Ocean County Engineer Frank Scarantino.
What will follow is a “very controlled level of study of environmental and manmade constraints,’’ that may make extending the road impossible, he explained.
The goal is to find an alignment that meets the standards for an Ocean County road but meets the “stakeholder concerns,’’ he said. Among them is the reluctance of Lacey Township officials to move congestion on Route 9 in Beachwood and Berkeley south a few miles on the Western Blvd. extension, he said.
Other municipal officials, in the towns along the south side of the river and Berkeley have other concerns, he said.
Critters that have blocked mighty county plans in the past are in the area between the end of Western Blvd. and Route 9 in the vicinity of the Beachwood Plaza Shopping Center in Berkeley, Scarantino explained. Among them are the endangered tree frog and the pine snake.
The latter stopped plans to extend Mule Road south to Pinewald-Keswick Road in Berkeley and killed a proposal for a county golf course in Beachwood West.
Along with the materials mining operation there are wetlands and open waters to consider too, Scarantino said.