SEA BRIGHT: With the upcoming repaving of Ocean Avenue/Route 36, borough officials are now weighing the pros and cons of adding a bicycle lane and back-in angled parking when the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) re-stripes the highway.
Sea Bright Recovery Manager Steve Nelson said during the Feb. 15 Sea Bright Council Workshop meeting that the borough contacted the NJDOT last spring to look at what it would take to stripe bike lanes in the borough and put in some back-in angled parking. The NJDOT brought in RBA Group Planner Mike Dannemiller as a consultant on the project and the concept was ultimately given the state's stamp of approval.
"This is the DOT-approved plan so if the borough agrees to this plan, this is what would be striped as designed here," Nelson said. "The plan that you have before you shows a bike lane from Monmouth Beach up to Sandy Hook, it shows back-in angled parking in the downtown portion of Sea Bright."
The bike lane would be located on the northbound and southbound sides of Route 36.
"Sea Bright really is the hole in the doughnut in terms of biking sites in the area, you've got Sandy Hook to the north, you've got wide shoulders to the south and you've got the Route 36 Bridge which was recently completed with bike lanes and widened sidewalks," Nelson said.
The bike lanes would be 4-feet wide on the north side of the borough and 5 feet everywhere else.
The plan could also include extending the southbound right turn lane from Route 36 to the Rumson/Sea Bright Bridge.
Nelson said some of the benefits for the back-in angled parking is that it makes it safer for cyclists coming through town and it will also act to slow traffic down.
He said one of the negatives is that there would be a loss of parking on the northbound side of the street in the downtown area.
"There is going to be an overall net loss of parking downtown because of the back-in angled parking and the fact that we're losing northbound parking (because of the northbound bike lane)," Nelson said. "There's a gain on the westbound side of 7 spaces, but fewer overall."
The borough currently has 34 spaces on southbound side, and would have 41 if the plan as presented is accepted by the borough.
Dannemiller said the plan can be modified to include a bike lane and parallel parking as opposed to the back-in angled parking, but that it would be safer for cyclists with the new type of parking.
The borough tried the back-in angled parking in front of Andy K's Dairy and Deli last spring and it was met with mixed reviews by residents.
Borough officials were all in agreement that the bike lane should be a part of the plan but offered differing opinions on the back-in angled parking.
Mayor Dina Long said she wanted to hear from business owners before deciding on the type of parking that should be included in the plan.
Councilman Charles Rooney said he was in favor of the back-in angled parking as it would make it more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly and make it a destination for cyclists.
"(The DOT is) doing (the work) for free, it doesn't make any sense to pass it up," Rooney said.
Rooney said he spoke to several downtown business owners about the new type of parking and said the responses was "much more positive" than he expected.
Long said all the business owners will be notified of the possible change in parking and said if the plan was approved that she would like to have a 1-year assessment period.
The repaving will begin as soon as New Jersey American Water's water main project replacement project is completed. That project could begin as soon as this month, but borough officials and the NJDOT did not have a specific date.
The council would need to give the striping plan its approval for it to be implemented and a decision could be made by mid February, possibly by the Feb. 17 meeting, by way of a resolution.
Long said copies of the plan will be available at borough hall and will be placed on the borough web site.