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Going Nowhere Fast

Faygie Holt

Traffic is a problem everywhere, but in Lakewood, one of the fastest growing Jewish communities in the world, it gets worse by the day. Can the snarl ever be solved?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It’s a week before Chanukah and cars are crawling down New Jersey’s US Route 9 in Lakewood, the main north-south artery that runs through town. Inching along, you watch as the streetlights in the distance turn red, then green, then red again, while your car barely moves an inch. Out of the corner of your eye, you notice a pedestrian step into the street. She tiptoes forward trying to decide if she can make it across before the light changes. Deciding to go for it, she charges across the road and… right into the path of an oncoming car. Thankfully, the car stops short before hitting her. That reminds you of an incident last week. You sat behind a school bus, its red lights flashing, only to watch a car speed through the intersection and pass the bus, totally disregarding the law. Thankfully, the children hadn’t yet started to cross the street and no one was hurt. In other words, just another week in Lakewood traffic. Once populated with chicken farms and resort hotels, the New Jersey city that in 1980 counted a population of 38,000 has blossomed today to nearly 100,000 residents. Almost everywhere one looks in the township, signs of construction are evident. New housing developments means more people, more cars, and more streets in a city that the 2010 US Census identified as “New Jersey’s fastest-growing municipality.” But all across the United States, people are experiencing a new driving reality: if you are trying to get somewhere fast, forget it. Thanks to a growing population, more cars on the road, more pedestrians, more trucks, bike riders, buses, and shopper shuttles, there are more demands than ever on an aging transit infrastructure. The old adage that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line no longer applies. 

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