A kick-off meeting on Thursday, August 11 brought 30 officials from Cape May and Cumberland Counties to the Cape May County Administration Building for a first look at the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization’s (SJTPO) study of Routes 55, 47, and 347. Together these roadways serve as one of the primary emergency evacuation routes for nearby shore communities. The outdated 30-mile corridor is unable to handle heavy traffic volumes experienced during the summer season, with more than 32,000 daily vehicles using the roadway. There are also significant safety concerns. Since 2003 there have been more than 2,800 accidents on Route 47 from mileposts 1.55 through 24.45, causing 35 deaths and hundreds of injuries. On Route 347 from mileposts 0 through 2.71, there were 189 crashes, 4 deaths, and 72 injuries.
SJTPO has begun a preliminary investigation to identify the need for safety and congestion management improvements along the corridor, and McCormick Taylor is pinpointing areas of concern and defining specific transportation problems. The project team is also performing an extensive traffic count program that will be used to prepare traffic models of current and future levels of delay and travel times. The project scope includes an evaluation of “hotspot” crash locations, while identifying possible contributing factors, like substandard design elements. A preliminary environmental screening is being performed to provide baseline environmental and land use conditions.
The McCormick Taylor team is providing community outreach as well. Following the kick-off meeting, an online survey was circulated to stakeholders and the public to collect feedback regarding the existing transportation issues along the corridor. Data collection results and comments obtained from the community outreach program will shape a comprehensive Purpose and Need Statement for the project, which will help form future studies geared toward developing and analyzing specific alternatives for improvements along the roadways. The Purpose and Need Statement is the first step in the project development process and is a requirement to maintain eligibility for federal funding of future project phases.