Left to right: Commissioner Ross F. Licitra, Commissioner Nick DiRocco, Colts Neck Committeeman Frank Rizzuto, Colts Neck Committeewoman Sue Fitzpatrick, Colts Neck Deputy Mayor J.P. Bartolomeo, Colts Neck Mayor Michael Viola, Commissioner Lillian G. Burry, Colts Neck Committeewoman Tara Torchia Buss, Congressman Chris Smith and Commissioner Director Thomas A. Arnone.

Long-time traffic headache finally fixed

COLTS NECK, NJ – Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) joined Monmouth County and Colts Neck officials at the intersection of Route 34 and Route 537 in Colts Neck to mark the end of a nearly two-decade headache to motorists.

The county project tapped $23 million in mostly federal funding to fix the intersection of State Highway Route 34 and County Road 537—plagued with long traffic waits of up to 236 seconds (3.9 minutes) during peak traffic hours.  Because of the congestion and long wait times, the intersection was deemed “the worst performing intersection in Monmouth County.”

“This is a win-win-win,” said Rep. Chris Smith, a strong supporter who was on hand Thursday to officially mark the conclusion of the construction and full operation of the new intersection. “Less congestion, better safety and more efficiency. Anyone who travels this intersection knows what a dreaded headache it was, especially during rush hour. What we have today is a clear improvement to traffic, congestion and safety. If you count the reduced use of local streets as short-cuts by desperate motorists—an obvious serious impact to local neighborhoods—you might call it a win-win-win-win.”

Smith, Freeholder Director Tom Arnone and others present at the ceremony, attributed the success of the project to Monmouth County Commissioner Lillian Burry.  A brass plaque affixed to the project’s Bridge A-18 reads: “A Persistence of Vision—Lillian G. Burry—Colts Neck Mayor and Freeholder 2001-2020.”

“Freeholder Lillian Burry must be recognized for her leadership and tenacity,” said Smith. “She was mayor in 2001 when she started fighting for this project. It was a bear, taking 19 years to complete, but she saw the job through.”

Burry said that for nearly two decades of her time in public service at the municipal and County levels, she worked to make the intersection improvement a priority.

“For years, residents, business owners and motorists have experienced lengthy delays and hazardous driving conditions at one of the busiest intersections in Monmouth County,” said Commissioner Lillian G. Burry. “The completed project has drastically altered how people travel in and through Colts Neck, especially during commuter peak hours.”

Key improvements included bridges over Mine Brook in two places, one over Rt. 34 and the other CR 537, as road widening and an upgraded traffic signalization.

The intersection falls in the center of Colts Neck Township and is a major access route to Route 18, which lies just south of the intersection. At the site, Route 34 sees 20,000 vehicles day and CR 537 has another 17,000 vehicles per day.

The cost-share of the project was split 75 percent federal and 25 percent state. About $17.5 million–the federal share–was authorized through the National Highway Performance Program.  The other 25 percent was funded locally through the New Jersey Department of Transportation. The county contributed $250,000.

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