By Donald Wittkowski
Sea Isle City officials are making a U-turn in their decision to convert three streets into one-way traffic.
City Council indicated at its meeting Tuesday that it will repeal a traffic ordinance approved last year to make parts of 40th, 51st and 52nd streets one-way routes after neighbors raised objections.
Although the ordinance was passed by Council in December, the city has not yet erected the one-way signs on the three streets, so traffic has continued to flow in both directions and no tickets have been issued by police, City Solicitor Paul Baldini said.
City Business Administrator George Savastano told Council that some of the neighbors on 40th, 51st and 52nd streets complained about the proposed switch to one-way traffic. He said the neighbors felt they weren’t properly notified by the city about the proposed change.
At Savastano’s recommendation, the Council members directed Baldini to draft a new ordinance to formally revert back to two-way traffic. The measure is expected to be introduced by Council at its meeting on April 24. A public hearing and final vote are scheduled for Council’s May 19 meeting.
In the meantime, the city plans to study traffic flow on the three streets during the busy summer tourism season. It will also collect feedback from the neighbors on whether to “revisit” the issue in the fall, Savastano said.
Parking shortages and traffic flow are two major issues during the summer, when Sea Isle swells into a bustling vacation resort crowded with tens of thousands of tourists. City officials are looking for ways to improve traffic flow on narrow and congested streets during the summer.
As part of that plan, Council had proposed turning three cross streets into one-way routes. They include 40th Street between Central and Cini avenues, 51st Street between Central and Landis avenues and 52nd Street between Central and Landis avenues.
Savastano explained that motorists park on both sides of those streets during the summer, making them too narrow for traffic to get by in both directions.
“This is a situation that only occurs during the summer, navigating down the road with parking on both sides,” he said.
Savastano noted that the proposed change to one-way traffic on 40th, 51st and 52nd streets was made at the recommendation of the police department and seems to “make sense.”
However, the city will now keep those streets as two-way traffic following objections by the neighbors. Letters will be sent to homeowners on each street to let them know that the one-way traffic plan is being rescinded.
A handful of neighbors appeared during Tuesday’s Council meeting to express their concerns about turning the streets into one-way traffic. Some of them said the city did not notify them after the change was originally approved last year.
“I was disappointed there wasn’t some kind of communication with the homeowners on the street before the change was made,” Gerry Wills, a resident of 52nd Street, told Council.
After the meeting, Wills praised city officials for reconsidering the one-way plan.
In an interview, Wills said he wants the streets to remain as two-way routes because it gives him more flexibility while driving around town.
“When I pull out to go to church, I go one way. But when I want to go shopping, I go another way,” he said of trips from his house.
Another resident, Frank Primavera, who lives on 51st Street, said two-way traffic helps him to avoid congested areas, flooded roads and street corners that have poor visibility because of parked cars near the restaurants on Landis Avenue.
Primavera also said that one-way streets would possibly create a safety hazard. He believes motorists can drive faster on one-way roads because they don’t have to slow down for oncoming traffic.
“Making a block one-way isn’t going to make it safer,” he said in an interview.