Ocean County Press Release

FREEHOLDER Joseph H. Vicari wasn't about to miss this opportunity.

After Gov. Phil Murphy stopped in Point Pleasant Beach to sign a bi-partisan bill to block energy drilling off the Jersey Shore – a position the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders has long supported – Vicari got some private face-to-face time with the governor to discuss another burning issue, continued roadwork at Route 166 and 37 in Toms River.

"The governor was very gracious and I thanked him for taking a personal interest in these issues that are so important to Ocean County's residents," Vicari said.

After attending the bill signing on the Point Pleasant Beach Boardwalk, Vicari said he had the opportunity to discuss one-on-one with Murphy about the ongoing problems at the busy intersection, which is under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Transportation.

"I explained that this intersection is literally the gateway to the Shore," Vicari said.

The governor's response was positive.

Following the meeting, an assistant to the state's chief executive accompanied Vicari on a brief tour of the construction site, where they met with several business owners impacted by the project.

Last week the Board of Freeholders passed a formal resolution asking the state to complete the work as quickly as possible.

"This project was supposed to have been completed by now," Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little said. "While I understand that the majority of delays occurred prior to Governor Murphy taking office, I am also concerned that with the approach of Memorial Day traffic delays at this intersection are only going to get worse."

Located near the entrance to the Garden State Parkway, the construction project is a bottleneck for traffic both heading to and leaving the Shore.

The DOT now estimates that the work may not be completed until next year.

Businesses along Route 166 and Route 37 have also reported a drop in customers who are unwilling to navigate thru the maze of cones and construction vehicles to visit nearby shops and restaurants.

"Enough is enough," Vicari said in a recent letter to Murphy. "This project impedes the flow of traffic through one of the busiest areas of Toms River and we cannot wait until 2019 to see this work completed."

Now that he's met personally with the governor and a member of his staff, Vicari said he is confident Murphy will do all he can to fast-track the project.

"It was a very productive meeting," Vicari said.

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