ATLANTIC CITY — Ordinances to accept about $2 million in state and federal funding for the first phase of a “road diet” to trim Atlantic Avenue to two traffic lanes will be on next week’s regular council agenda, and will pass, Mayor Marty Small Sr. predicted Wednesday.
City Council voted 4-3 against the resolutions at a special meeting Tuesday night, after some residents and council members said the plan would only push traffic to other streets and create gridlock downtown.
The four lanes of vehicle traffic would be cut down to two under the plan, and there would be parallel parking and a bike lane on each side instead. Traffic signals would be synchronized for the most efficient traffic flow.
“There was some confusion with some council members,” Small said Wednesday morning. “It will be back on at the regular meeting (Nov. 17).”
If the ordinances do not pass, it is still possible the state will veto the meeting minutes, under the state takeover bill. But Small said that is not the way he wants the project to get done.
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“We are trying to self govern. Every time there is a tough decision, we shouldn’t have to have the state override (city decisions),” Small said.
Small has long championed the idea as a way to get significant federal funding while improving safety, especially for pedestrians.
In addition to allowing the city to accept the funding, another ordinance would have started the process to put out a request for proposals for the first phase of the project.
“The bottom line is, we have an opportunity to pave the entire Atlantic Avenue, and the subject matter experts — professional engineers — recommended it,” Small said. “It’s going to make Atlantic Avenue safer, and traffic will move swifter due to synchronized (traffic lights), and it’s going to be brighter.”
Similar road diets have been adopted on Atlantic Avenue in Margate and Longport. But those areas are much more residential than the avenue in most parts of Atlantic City.
The original plan called for a concrete median to run down the middle, but that has been eliminated to give more room for emergency vehicles to pass through, Small said.
“As mayor ... this is a tremendous opportunity to get federal and state funding, and I don’t understand how people can automatically assume it’s not going to work,” Small said of opposition from some community members and elected officials.
Small said according to engineers, Atlantic Avenue is among the most dangerous, if not the most dangerous in the state for accidents and deaths, and said council members have to decide what is best for the city even if it’s a tough decision.
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