ATLANTIC CITY — The city’s plans for a “road diet” for Atlantic Avenue should be changed or scrapped, according to City Council candidates participating in a forum Thursday night sponsored by the Chelsea Neighborhood Association.
Even Democrats running on Mayor Marty Small Sr.’s ticket said the plan needs tweaking, while Small defended it during the mayoral candidates’ portion.
“Certain portions experts are saying will work very well, others won’t,” said Council President George Tibbitt, who is running for reelection on a Democratic ticket with Small, city Constituent Services Director Bruce Weekes and longtime Housing Authority board member Stephanie Marshall. “After hearing from neighborhood associations, we are looking at the whole thing. We are waiting on engineers to give a complete 48-block report on that.”
In May, city officials said the city has the funding and is finalizing plans to make the four-lane Atlantic Avenue a two-lane street for cars and trucks from Albany Avenue at Stockton University to its end in the inlet at Maine Avenue, in a bid to decrease accidents, particularly fatal pedestrian crashes.
The two outside travel lanes would become protected bike lanes, and parking would remain parallel at the curb, city Engineer Uzo Ahiarakwe has said.
Republicans, however, were much more critical.
Atlantic Avenue is the Main Street of Atlantic City. Unfortunately, it is also the main vehi…
“As it stands, it’s one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard of,” said Matthew James Diullio-Jusino, a Chelsea resident running on a Republican ticket with real estate agent Maria Lacca and small business owner and former Councilman Rizwan Khan Malik, as well as Tom Forkin for mayor. “Two lanes on Atlantic Avenue is just absurd.”
Tibbitt said the plan, largely federally funded, comes with new lighting and streetscaping, which is vitally important to the city.
Ahiarakwe has said it will cost $8 million to $10 million, and be paid for with about 90% federal funds and 10% city funds.
Weekes said the plan should be done in phases, and Marshall said more discussion is needed.
“The residents have concerns. Sometimes you have to listen to residents, not experts,” Marshall said.
Malik called it a bad idea that will create gridlock and chaos, and Lacca said, “It will jam up the city. In my opinioN, it will cause more accidents. And what do you do when you have an accident (to get emergency vehicles there)?”
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The group also discussed how to better control sober living homes and short-term rentals such as those offered through Airbnb, how to fund more police officers and improve the safety and cleanliness of the city, and ways to better serve youth.
REPORTER: Michelle Brunetti Post