Ventnor Awarded DOT Grant for School Safety Improvements

Ventnor was awarded a $207,000 grant for safety improvements near the Ventnor Educational Community Complex (VECC). 
Ventnor Mayor Beth Holzman stated, "Thank you to the State for this grant.  This grant is a result of a team effort by the City Commissioners, the Board of Education and the School Administration, the Police Department, the City Administrator Maria Mento and the City Engineer Ed Stinson.  Safety improvements for our children to access the school is a priority.”
The improvements will extend along Lafayette Avenue from Ventnor Gardens Plaza to Fulton Avenue.  At the Ventnor Gardens Plaza intersection high-visibility crosswalks will be added.  Curb extensions will be added at the intersections of Ventnor Gardens Plaza, Balfour Avenue, Essex Avenue and Fulton Avenue. Pedestrian refuge islands will be added at the intersections of Balfour, Essex and Fulton. 

Shared lane marking will be added to provide for safer access for bicyclist and the 60 feet wide cross section of Lafayette Avenue will be modified to include bike lanes and a center turn lane. 

In 2016, the Ventnor – Margate Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan was adopted to develop a regional bicycle and pedestrian network.  This Plan recommended the improvements to be funded by this Safe Routes to School Grant.  The full Plan is available on the City’s web site.
In 2017, the members of the Ventnor School Travel Plan Committee worked on a revised Plan to improve safe access to the school.  The Plan identified an area of concern where North Wyoming Avenue intersects with Calvert Avenue and Ventnor Gardens Plaza.  The irregular configuration of this intersection causes confusion among drivers which creates potential hazards for walkers and cyclists.  The Plan notes that many of the students must walk along North Wyoming Avenue to get to school.  Additional improvements are needed along this corridor to make it safer to walk or bike to alert cross traffic of the school children.

Both Lafayette Avenue in front of the VECC and the Ventnor Gardens Plaza and Wyoming Avenue intersection were identified as problem areas. Lafayette Avenue is currently very wide, and the space is not well defined, which encourages higher vehicles speeds and makes it more difficult for crossing guards to manage the space. The Ventnor Gardens Plaza & Wyoming Avenue intersection is a gateway to the school and was identified as an area of concern in the Ventnor School Travel Plan, which stated that “the irregular configuration causes confusion among drivers, which creates potential hazards for walkers and cyclists.” The existing intersection is skewed, with large turning radii that enable high speed vehicle turns, and only has pedestrian crosswalks on two of the four legs.

The Ventnor School Safety Improvement Project was one of only three grants awarded to in the South Jersey area.   Hammonton and West Cape May Borough were the other approved projects.  The NJDOT application and the School Travel Plan was prepared by Rutala Associates, the City’s Grant Consultant.
NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti noted, “The Safe Route to School Program has proven to be very popular.  This year the State received 77 applications requesting a total of more than $41 million.  With $5.6 million available, the State funded 18 projects.”

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