By BRIAN IANIERI, Staff Writer | Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010
One of the well-known secrets for locals navigating the Garden State Parkway in Cape May County is that to get to Sea Isle City quickly you don’t necessarily follow the signs.
Sea Isle City Mayor Leonard Desiderio wants the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which operates the parkway, to share that secret with the world.
Getting to Sea Isle City southbound on the parkway is a simple matter: Motorists simply need to take Exit 17, which is clearly marked as the city’s exit.
But it is the northbound route that can throw some drivers, mostly visiting ones, off. The northbound parkway lacks an offramp at Exit 17.
So, motorists heading north can get off at Exit 13, which leads them through Sea Isle’s southern neighbor, Avalon. The trip through Avalon takes motorists over local roads, where speed limits are 25 mph, over the Townsends Inlet Bridge and into the isolated southern end of Sea Isle City.
Or, Desiderio said, the Turnpike Authority could just erect a sign directing motorists to travel a little farther north and make a U-turn at the nearby Ocean View service area, which is faster and less confusing, he said.
“We’ve had people actually call and say, ‘I went to the toll booth and didn’t see a Sea Isle City exit.’
We say, ‘Yes you did, you’ve got to get off at the next exit and come around,'” he said.
Desiderio, who takes up the issue every few years, said he mentioned it to Turnpike Authority officials earlier this month during a meeting regarding ways to rejuvenate the Ocean View service area.
“Sea Isle would even do the traffic count if they want us to count cars that would actually make this loop around,” he said. “I don’t know anyone coming from the southern end of the county to Sea Isle that gets off (at Exit 13 to Avalon). ”
The Turnpike Authority, which operates the parkway, did not comment on the mayor’s proposal Wednesday.
In the past, state officials have not embraced the U-turn advocated by Desiderio, saying the shortcut can be dangerous for motorists who enter traffic in the left acceleration lane and have to cross two lanes of traffic to reach the exit.
Desiderio said the acceleration lane is not much different than at other sections of the parkway.
There is no sign discouraging a U-turn through the rest area.
Nearby Stone Harbor and Avalon each has its own northbound exit.
Sea Isle City Councilman John Divney said that while the city doesn’t need an offramp northbound, a sign showing motorists the U-turn technique would be helpful.
In 1996, after Desiderio had been asking for a sign for Sea Isle, a sign was erected along the parkway directing motorists to Exit 13 to get into Sea Isle City.
But that was not what he had in mind.
“All I wanted was a sign that says Sea Isle, with a little loop sign. They gave me Exit 13 that says nothing,” he said.