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Traffic Problems Delay Wal-Mart 5.17.2006

By Jack Fichter

RIO GRANDE –  The opening for a new Wal-Mart here has been delayed until August due to unexpected traffic problems on Route 9.
Middle Township Mayor Nathan Doughty said an additional northbound lane is being considered on the eastside of Route 9, but no plans have been finalized. 
He traveled to Trenton May 11 to meet with officials of the state Department of Transportation (DOT), Wal-Mart, and shopping center developer William Juliano to discuss widening Route 9 from the Sunoco gas station at Route 47 to Wal-Mart’s entrance road.
Doughty said all parties were in agreement in delaying Wal-Mart’s opening.
“What perpetuated this was the number of calls we were getting from people when the sign went up on Wal-Mart,” he said.
Doughty said he contacted both the developer and DOT.
He said construction of an additional lane on Route 9 would not begin until fall or winter. The delay of opening Wal-Mart will only prevent a portion of summer traffic from encountering back ups on Route 9.
The mayor acknowledged traffic tie-ups would occur in August, a peak tourism month.
Doughty said the cost of road improvements would be borne by the developer and Wal-Mart. He said another meeting of all parties involved would take place later in the week.
Raymour and Flanigan will open a furniture store in the area in need of improvement, next to a planned Office Depot on Route 9, said Doughty.
Middle Township Administrator James Alexis told the Herald both the northbound lane of Route 9 and the intersection of Wal-Mart’s entrance and Route 9 were issues brought up by DOT.
Erin Phalon, a DOT spokesperson, told the Herald DOT agrees with local officials that intersection improvements are necessary, but the agency “has not committed to a road widening.”
She said DOT agrees steps must be taken to improve the flow of traffic due to an expected increase of cars on Route 9 but the agency is “still determining what those steps are.”

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