Monmouth University is a private university with over 5,000 students. The campus is split by NJ Route 71, with dormitories, health facilities, dining facilities, classrooms, administrative offices, and a library in the immediate vicinity. For thirty years, a mid-block crosswalk connecting the campus accommodated pedestrians. The frequent stopping of traffic at the crossing created capacity problems along the roadway. Traffic counts at this intersection have recorded up to 600 pedestrians crossing Route 71, conflicting with over 1,200 vehicles traveling on Route 71 in a one hour period. The crosswalk was the location of numerous rear-end vehicular accidents, pedestrian accidents (including one fatality), and an accident involving a crossing guard. The project's objective was to separate vehicular and pedestrian traffic without impacting the site's historic character or compromising student safety.
Coordination between Monmouth University, the Borough of West Long Branch, New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office, the Federal Highway Administration, and the New Jersey Department of Transportation led to the advancement of an innovative design to eliminate pedestrian/ vehicular conflict. The project illustrates the Department's adoption of a multi-modal approach in addressing the transportation needs of New Jersey. This is also the first major project developed to employ the principles of Context Sensitive Solutions in New Jersey.
The project is among the first wave of independent Pedestrian/ Bicycle projects to be built in New Jersey and reflects the Department's willingness to make significant investments to address the nonmotorized needs of New Jersey. Construction of the tunnel eliminated conflicts that arose between pedestrians and vehicles. Pedestrians have safer passage through the campus and there is no vehicle cue waiting for pedestrian crossings. The tunnel is used daily by the thousands of students attending Monmouth University, but is also available for use by the local residents and visitors to the University as well. The tunnel provides safe passage for all students, including those with disabilities. There were American Disability Act (ADA) compatible ramps provided for access to the tunnel on either side of the structure.
The objective of this project was to separate vehicular and pedestrian traffic without impacting the site's historic character or compromising student safety. The project design not only achieved that objective but also resulted in a socially significant connection between the historic sections of the campus and the roadway corridor. Pedestrian/ vehicular conflicts were eliminated with the opening of the tunnel. Security features in the tunnel include cameras and emergency phones equipped with panic buttons connected to university police. The interagency participation and public outreach utilized during the design of the project has encouraged the Monmouth University and West Long Branch community to take pride in the tunnel, and was essential in gaining acceptance of the project.