Traffic crunch expected for Monmouth Park’s Haskell Invitational on Sunday
The 16-member Oceanport Police Department is revamping its traffic safety plan in light of more than 60,000 spectators expected to watch Triple Crown winner American Pharoah run in Sunday's Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.
Police Lt. Michael Kelly said additional resources being added include New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Department of Transportation and officers from surrounding towns who will be stationed at intersections on the roads and in parking lots to help move traffic in and out of the racetrack.
"The gates open at 9 a.m., so we predict the major inbound flow of traffic coming off the (Garden State) Parkway and Route 18 into the track from about 9 to 11 a.m.," said Kelly.
Authorities are encouraging spectators to take the train, carpool, bike or even walk in order to avoid what is likely to be gridlock traffic.
Once the Haskell goes off at 5:52 p.m., it's only expected to take about 20 minutes for traffic to build up exiting Monmouth Park, according to Kelly.
"It could take a couple of hours to get everybody out of the track and out to those major Routes - Route 18 and the Parkway. We'll be flowing traffic outbound, closing off inbound routes, so we can double up on the flow of traffic," Kelly said.
Route 36 is likely to experience the most traffic as it's the main route to and from the park.
Traffic leaving the park on Route 36 could be further impacted by people leaving nearby beaches to return home especially with sunshine and temperatures around 90 degrees predicted, according to Kelly.
"I expect it to go smoothly with what we planned," said Kelly, but he emphasized, "It will go slowly."
Kelly said his department has drawn from the surrounding towns, but noted West Long Branch and Eatontown have to man their traffic posts, as well as Little Silver to the north and Long Branch to the east of Oceanport.
Kelly is urging motorists to be patient whether they're going to the Haskell or to the beach, and to avoid the area if at all possible.
"Plan alternate routes if you're familiar with the area. We will have detours set up and numerous, numerous sign boards will be operational to ease motorists around the area for those that aren't coming to the track," Kelly added.
For those planning to travel by car, parking could be a challenge. Earlier this month, Monmouth Park officials increased parking costs in an effort to encourage people to take mass transit or to car pool. It will cost attendees $20 to park in general or grandstand preferred parking. Clubhouse preferred parking will cost $14.00 and valet parking will be $30.00. For more information, go to www.monmouthpark.com/haskell.
For those wanting to travel by train, NJ Transit announced this week that they will add trains to the North Jersey Coast Line. According to a press release emailed on July 28, every local North Jersey Coast Line train will stop at the Monmouth Park Station on Sunday. In addition, four additional trains will be dedicated to fans leaving Monmouth Park heading toward Newark, and one additional train will be dedicated to fans heading south toward Bay Head.
Commuters can call NJ TRANSIT Customer Service at (973) 275-5555 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily or go to their website for further details.
American Pharoah is the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.