ATLANTIC CITY — Atlantic City is going off its diet.
The Atlantic Avenue road diet, that is.
On Tuesday, City Council voted 4-3 against ordinances that would have allowed the city to accept about $2 million in state and federal funds, and to put out a request for proposals for the first phase of a project to trim the four-lane road into two lanes with parking and bike lanes on each side.
Mayor Marty Small Sr., a big supporter of the road diet, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
But the state could, under the Municipal Stabilization and Recovery Act that outlines the state takevover of the city, refuse to approve the minutes of the meeting to keep the idea alive.
“Every resident … is against this,” said Carol Ruffu, president of the Chelsea Neighborhood Association.
She said Small’s administration, which favors the plan, has said it met with all neighborhood groups but “we were never approached to have a meeting.”
Ruffu and other residents who spoke said the idea will not work and will not cut down on accidents in the city as hoped.
City Engineer Uzo Ahiarakue said Atlantic Avenue has the highest accident rate in the state, and the road diet is intended to cut down especially on pedestrians being hit by vehicles.
The plan would just send more traffic to other streets, increasing accidents there, said City Councilman Jesse Kurtz.
“Countless businesses have reached out to me (in opposition),” Kurtz said.
“This is a big priority of the mayor,” Kurtz said after the meeting. “He could persuade the state ... to override council. He could whip a couple of votes and call another meeting to reconsider.”
Kurtz called it a “dumb idea in the central business district and in the Chelsea area.”
It could work in the first couple of blocks after Maine in the Inlet, he said.
“The whole thing is a ploy for federal funding,” Kurtz said. “People in traffic safety go through fads. The big idea they are hot on now is the road diet.”
The three council members who voted in favor of the road diet were Council President George Tibbitt, Councilman Kaleem Shabazz and Kurtz.
Kurtz said he voted for it, even though he voiced his opposition to the idea, because Phase One started in a different area of town, not the Chelsea area he represents.
Voting against were Councilwoman Latoya Dunston and Councilmen Jeffree Fauntleroy, Aaron Randolph and Muhammad Zia. Councilmen Moisse “Mo” Delgado and MD Hossain Morshed were not present.
REPORTER: Michelle Brunetti Post