Lavallette officials are mulling a decision on whether to petition the state Department of Transportation to reduce the speed limit on Route 35’s northbound lanes during the summer season, as is done with other areas of the highway.
Reducing the highway’s 35 m.p.h. speed limit has been suggested by some residents, officials said. Most of Route 35 is reduced to 35 m.p.h. from 45 m.p.h. outside the summer tourism season. But the portion of the highway that extends through Lavallette’s business district has a permanent speed limit of 35 m.p.h. A request from Lavallette could see the limit reduced the 30 mp.h. or 25 m.p.h., but the idea also has its detractors, who say setting a speed limit too low could cause drivers to monitor their speed so closely that they take their eyes off the road.
“My car goes 25 m.p.h. with my foot off the gas,” said Councilwoman Joanne Filippone. “It’s almost impossible to drive at that speed because you’re constantly looking at your dashboard. I think that could make it more of a problem.”
Route 35’s presence through the business district has spurred numerous opinions over the years, especially since New Jersey passed a revised crosswalk law in 2009. The borough has faced criticism on some occasions for the number of barricades and crosswalk signage, some which are located in the middle of the roadway. Still others have complained that pedestrians dart in front of drivers, drivers cannot properly see the ends of crosswalks, and some drivers either fail to stop for pedestrians or illegally stop at green lights to let them go.
“Some people complained about speeds at night because drivers can’t see pedestrians trying to cross,” Council President Anita Zalom said.
On the other hand, “I had a few people come to me and say, ‘I’d rather have it go up to 45 miles per hour.’” said Councilman Robert Lamb.
His solution: leave the speed limit at 35 m.p.h.
Zalom said the council could continue to debate the issue and ask for input from the police department. In the mean time, Zalom said she contacted NJDOT and the agency said the borough can request a change in the speed limit by sending a letter referencing the opinion of local officials.