County marks completion of Route 34 and Route 537 intersection improvements

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COLTS NECK – The Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners has marked the completion of the state Route 34 and county Route 537 intersection improvement and bridge replacement project in Colts Neck.

The official completion date was Jan. 14, according to a press release from the county.

The project included the widening of Route 34, the widening of Route 537, the replacement of an existing traffic signal with state-of-the art technology, the replacement of a Route 537 bridge, the replacement of a Route 34 bridge and the installation of bio-retention basins, according to the press release.

“The intersection improvement project at Route 34 and Route 537 set out to improve the safety and operations of the intersection as well as to decrease the use of local roads as alternate routes to avoid congestion,” said Commissioner Director Thomas A. Arnone, liaison to the county’s Department of Public Works and Engineering.

“Throughout construction the county worked closely with local businesses, including Delicious Orchards, Colts Neck Stillhouse and the Orchards at Colts Neck shopping plaza to minimize disruptions to their operations. At some points, work was staggered on certain sections of the roads based on their business hours to keep their driveways open,” Arnone said.

“For nearly two decades and throughout my time in public service at the municipal and county levels, I had the persistence of vision to bring this intersection improvement to the forefront of our priorities as elected officials and brought this essential project to fruition,” Commissioner Lillian G. Burry was quoted as saying in the press release.

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

“As a resident of Colts Neck myself, I am personally gratified to see us reaching this significant milestone and I applaud our Monmouth County Department of Public Works and Engineering and our partners on the state level for their tireless efforts to make this project a reality,” Burry said.

The project was made possible through Monmouth County’s partnership with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

As the intersection of Route 34 and Route 537 falls under the DOT’s jurisdiction, this project would have typically been run by the state.

However, Monmouth County was given an opportunity to be the lead for this work so the project could advance. The project was completed almost entirely with federal aid grant and state aid Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) dollars under the DOT and county agreement, according to the press release.

The state provided 75% and the county provided 25% of the total $23.3 million project cost.

Of those costs, design totaled $1.5 million, right-of-way acquisition totaled $1.6 million, construction totaled $17.7 million and construction support and inspection totaled $2.5 million, according to the press release.

The county share was $5.5 million. Of the $5.5 million, the county used $5.2 million from its state aid TTF allocations and $300,000 from county capital funds to pay for non-participating construction items.

“I commend the county’s Department of Public Works and Engineering and all of our partners for the successful completion of this intersection improvement project,” Arnone said. “The county kept in constant communication with the community, such as disclosing that temporary lane closures or reroutes went into effect, and made this a continuous priority.”

Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) joined county officials at the intersection in Colts Neck to mark the completion of the project and said, “This is a win-win-win. 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.”

The county assembled a project design team that included Greenman-Pedersen Inc., Amy Greene Environmental (a Davey Company), and Prestige Environmental. County officials awarded a construction contract for these improvements to Rencor Inc. of Somerville.

In addition to Rencor, the construction team included Pantaleo Electric Inc., M.L. Ruberton Construction Co., Protec Documentation Services, Clean Earth Matters, LLC, LC Equipment Inc., the Vann Organization, ANS Consultants Inc. and Multifacet Inc.

The construction inspection and administration design consultants included T&M Associates Inc., Amercom Inc. and GTS Consultants, according to the press release.

In total, Monmouth County maintains approximately 1,000 lane miles of roads, 924 bridges and culverts, and 239 traffic signals and beacons.