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Ventnor to bond $4.3 million to complete 3 traffic improvement projects

Nov 01, 2023

Compass rose in Ventnor City Hall.


VENTNOR – The Board of Commissioners Thursday, Aug. 24 set in motion budget adjustments to complete three traffic signalization and intersection improvement projects that will make traveling safer for both pedestrians and motorists. Two of the projects involve traffic signalization and the third will improve handicapped access for a couple with visual impairments.

The city will fund a portion of the work with grants and a proposed $4.3 million bond ordinance that will be introduced at the next meeting.

Signalization improvements will be done on the city-owned portion of Ventnor Avenue between Dorset and Jackson avenues and the border-to-border span of Atlantic Avenue from Margate to Atlantic City. A pedestrian crossing at Little Rock and Ventnor avenues will be improved to allow a visually impaired couple to cross the two-lane roadway safely using flashing lights and audio announcements.

The city was awarded a $1.64 million Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant to synchronize five traffic lights on the city-owned portion of Ventnor Avenue. The grant program is funded through the federal government to improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion through traffic signal optimization.

The grant will partially fund the project which will include the same scope of work Atlantic County did to synchronize traffic signals on its portion of Ventnor Avenue, which spans the south side of Dorset Avenue to Longport, including new traffic light standards, traffic lights and control mechanism cabinets. The entire project is estimated to cost $3.1 million. The remaining cost not funded with the grant, $1.4 million, will be included in the proposed bond ordinance.

Mayor Lance Landgraf said the city did some “Monday morning quarterbacking” to improve the design that the county used and will include bump outs at intersections to better serve pedestrians.

Seeing the shortfalls of the county’s design, “this is a design we put a little more effort into,” he said.

Accepting the grant and inserting it into this year’s municipal budget allows the city to go out to bid for the project, Public Works Supervisor Ed Stinson said. He anticipates receiving bids at the end of September and awarding a contract in October.

The pedestrian crossing project at Little Rock Avenue is being funded with a $300,000 Safe Routes to Transit grant, although additional costs for inspection contract management, estimated to be less than $50,000, will be included in the proposed bond ordinance.

Although there is no overhead traffic signal proposed for the intersection, pedestrians will have access to a button to activate a flashing sign alerting motorists that someone is crossing the street. An audio signal will inform the visually impaired person that it’s safe to enter the crosswalk. The city will try to coordinate both projects at the same time.

The third project, signal synchronization on Atlantic Avenue, will include replacing timing controller units on 16 traffic lights on the Ventnor City-owned portion of Atlantic Avenue from Margate to Atlantic City. Replacing the controller units will allow the city to electronically program the timing of the traffic lights using a cloud-based system which will facilitate the smooth flow of traffic.

Stinson said the $560,000 Atlantic Avenue project will be fully funded by the city in a $300,000 appropriation included in a previous bond ordinance, with the remainder being funded in the new bond.

All projects are contingent upon availability of materials and the work being done during the off-season. If the projects are not completed by the middle of May, contractors will be required to suspend work for the summer before resuming the project in the fall of 2024.

“In a perfect world, the work will be done before summer,” Stinson said.

“These are big dollars, but we also are getting a significant portion from grants,” Commissioner Tim Kriebel said.

Commissioner Maria Mento noted that grant money may not be available in the future.

In other business, Landgraf said the city would seek funding from the state’s new $100 million Boardwalk Preservation Fund that was created through the federal government’s American Rescue Plan for infrastructure investments.

The board approved a resolution authorizing grant consultant James Rutala to apply for funding for Ventnor City, but Landgraf said he also reached out to Atlantic City to see if a joint application is warranted.

Ventnor and Atlantic City have the only two contiguous boardwalks in Atlantic County.

“Anytime you can join two municipalities together for something like that, it’s a better application,” Landgraf said.

Until the city hears from Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, the city will proceed with a singular grant application to seek $25 million to replace the entire Ventnor boardwalk.

“The surface looks fine, but underneath is where the problems are,” he said. “Some pilings and joists are going bad. It hasn’t been replaced in like 60 years, and the dunes didn’t help with air circulation at the bottom of the boardwalk.”

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