LAKEWOOD —Five intersections busy with foot and car traffic on a daily basis in Lakewood Township are set to be improved in the semi-immediate future.

Ocean County has received $1.6-million in federal grants to begin a road safety project along five intersections in Lakewood. The NJTPA (North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority) approved the funding at a recent meeting.

Over a dozen pedestrians were killed in Lakewood in 2016 in crashes with cars prompting the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office to crackdown on pedestrians and drivers alike at several key intersections.

Funding for the road projects will be coming from the NJTPA’s Local Safety Program, which Ocean County officials say provides federal funds for cost-effective solutions to help target areas in the region.

The money will be used to install a median with pedestrian islands and bike shoulders as well as traffic signal upgrades and left-turn lanes on Cedar Bridge Avenue at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Vine Avenue.

Heavy foot and car traffic populate Cedar Bridge, which links the Garden State Parkway to Route 9.

"It's heavily traveled by pedestrians," Freeholder John "Jack" Kelly said. "This safety program is going to improve the intersections which will help to reduce traffic accidents in the area and make it safer for pedestrians."

"The traffic lights of course make it safer for pedestrians crossing as they can until the light is red for the cross-traffic and then they can safely cross the road," Kelly said. "That's a very important component."

Kelly says the Cedar Bridge Avenue area is one of the most dangerous roadways in the NJTPA's local safety program.

The upgrades to this area are very much needed.

"The traffic conditions in Lakewood are not acceptable," Kelly said. "That's why we're making such a major push in that area to make not only safety improvements — safety improvements are a part of every one of our projects, but also to move traffic better — to go to four-lanes in some areas or three-lanes in other areas."

The NJTPA Board consists of one local elected official from each of the counties in the region (Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren) and the cities of Newark and Jersey City.

Kelly, who represents the County on the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority Board of Trustees, says upon approval of some permits, the upgrades could get underway by the summer.

"We have to do the designs and permitting, and that will probably take upwards of 4-6 months," Kelly said. "It all depends on the permitting...sometimes it takes a while to acquire those permits."

Kelly says even though safety upgrades will be made along the Cedar Bridge Avenue area this year, the onus remains on pedestrians and drivers to keep things safe.

"There's a responsibility on all of us to driver our vehicles safely, to follow the laws and the rules, to be alert, to not talk on your cellphone or be distracted," Kelly said.

He says that goes for pedestrians as well who need to follow the laws in place so everyone can be safe.

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