Millstone officials approve plan for two lanes in Pine Drive jughandle

MILLSTONE – The Township Committee in Millstone Township has placed its support behind the proposed reconfiguration of a jughandle after initially opposing the project.

During a recent meeting, committee members passed a resolution which states their support for the proposed jughandle reconfiguration at the intersection of Route 537/Pine Drive.

Route 537 is a Monmouth County road.

Cardinale Enterprises is constructing the Jackson Crossing 2/Adventure Crossing sports and entertainment complex in Jackson on Route 537 near Pine Drive. The property being developed is between Interstate 195 and the Six Flags Great Adventure theme park in Jackson.

The project will increase the number of lanes in the jughandle, which is on the south side of Route 537, from one to two.

When the upgrade has been completed, one lane in the jughandle will allow motorists to turn left onto Route 537 west to reach a Wawa convenience store and one lane will allow motorists to cross Route 537 and enter Pine Drive.

Millstone committee members rescinded a resolution which opposed the project before passing a resolution supporting the work.

The first resolution stated that the proposed reconfiguration would severely inconvenience Millstone residents and visitors, and that businesses in the township would be adversely affected by the reconfigured traffic flow.

Committee members initially asked the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders to reject the reconfiguration of the jughandle.

After committee members made clear their opposition to the project, developer Vito Cardinale came before the governing body to discuss the plan.

He said an average of 45 vehicles use the jughandle during morning hours and 110 vehicles use the jughandle during afternoon and evening hours from Monday through Saturday.

Cardinale said fewer than 10 vehicles use the jughandle to cross Route 537 to reach Pine Drive, while the vast majority of vehicles turn left onto Route 537 to reach Wawa.

He said an average of 250 vehicles during the morning hours and 110 vehicles during the afternoon and evening hours turn right off Route 537 to access the Wawa.

Cardinale said, “90% of all those trips, whether they are a.m. or p.m., are going to Wawa. They are not people going to Pine Drive.”

Emphasizing that the jughandle as it exists can only accommodate one lane of vehicles, Cardinale said it is 20 years old and in need of reconfiguration.

“With both Monmouth and Ocean counties, we have met multiple times with engineers who are telling me this (current jughandle) would fail in today’s times,” he said. “We proposed, with both counties, a solution that would increase the ability to put more cars (in the jughandle) during that traffic period.”

Cardinale reasoned the additional lane that would be created in the jughandle would be beneficial for residents of Pine Drive by helping them to avoid most of the vehicles in the jughandle that want to turn left onto Route 537.

“The 10 people per hour going (across Route 537) to Pine Drive would have their own lane,” he said. “We fixed the concern we had about making it more difficult for people living on Pine Drive. It will not be more difficult. It will be easier to get in and out of that road (and) easier to get to Wawa, McDonald’s and Burger King.

“If I don’t fix the jughandle, what we are going to have is a very difficult (situation) for the people who live on Pine Drive to get there because they are going to be queuing in traffic in one lane (in the jughandle) to get across Route 537 to (Pine Drive). Am I making life more difficult for the people who live on Pine Drive? Absolutely not. I’ve created more lanes. This is a fix,” he said.

Following Cardinale’s presentation, Deputy Mayor Nancy Grbelja made a motion to rescind the resolution opposing the upgrades and made a motion to pass a resolution supporting the jughandle’s reconfiguration. The motions were approved by committee members.

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