Coastal Evacuation Route Improvement Study

Project Summary

One of Monmouth County's finest assets, its 27 miles of sand beaches and 26 miles of bay coastline, is also a potential liability as low-lying coastal areas are subject to flooding from wave action and weather, particularly during hurricane events. In recent years, Monmouth County has taken several measures to mitigate the harm from coastal flooding.  These efforts have been based on existing flood records as well the possibility of increased flooding caused by climate change. For example, The County's Office of Emergency Management is working with state, federal, and other municipal agencies to coordinate responses and to plan for emergencies. 

As part of its overall effort to further protect residents and visitors from the hazards of coastal flooding, Monmouth County’s Planning Board undertook a one-year study (see Figure E-1).  Its purpose: to evaluate how the current coastal evacuation route system can be improved and possibly expanded to help move people away from the flood zones. This work involved the following:

  • Identifying a set of routes - roadways whose purpose is to bring people from a hazardous (flood) zone to a safe area;
  • Examining physical and operational problem areas and spots that could be targeted for improvements; and
  • Proposing near-term, intermediate, and long- range solutions.

The Study included local issues and concerns, the objectives and experience of municipalities and other involved stakeholders to help recommend, advance, the and implement solutions.

The report will be used by the County and Municipalities to plan and program operations and system improvements that will make evacuation from flood areas safer and more efficient. The specific roadway sections show what problems can be expected during a flood evacuation, and what projects and actions can be taken to reduce those problems. The information allows Government agencies to consider implementation or programming. Each suggested improvement covers the problem (flooding or capacity), the specific location, the improvement type, an estimated cost, an estimated time frame, and the lead agency. Improvements range from showing where police might be dispatched to control a specific intersection during an evacuation, to reconstruction of bridges and widening of roadways to make them more flood-proof or to handle increased evacuating traffic. The information need not be used to initiate new projects. It can also be used to supplement the background data for projects that are already under consideration.

Use of Report Data

With an understanding of the problem, possible solutions, scope, cost, lead agency, and timing; the County now has the ability to consider incorporation of these solutions into their operating and capital programs.  As part of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, projects may be included in the multi-year Transportation Improvement Program, or slated for additional study under the Annual Work Program.  This Study developed a Treatment Toolkit, enabling it to recommend a set of improvements tied to individual Portals.  However, this same toolkit may be applied globally to assist in programming and policy decisions.  It can provide a focus for setting short and long range infrastructure goals relating to coastal evacuation.

Although improvements are listed by route, the County can also take a functional or global approach.  Improvements can be implemented by type. 

Some physical improvements can be applied fairly easily and cheaply on an area-wide basis.  Evacuation signing, striping, and conversion of traffic signals to LED’s are a first step.

Operational Improvements that should be put in place ASAP include setting severe inundation zones as priority areas, preparation to place first responders at key intersections and “choke points”, and coordination of highway advisory radio among municipalities.

Longer Term Improvements, such as widening and elevating of roads and bridges need to be integrated into ongoing planning programs.  Evacuation improvement should be factored into the process for evaluating larger construction projects.

As a General Reference, municipalities can use the project data (populations affected, toolkit, methodologies, appendices) to support municipal evacuation programs.

For the Routes Themselves
Use the individual Route Sections to support improvements along those routes, or intersecting with those routes by referring to the Route tables or coded maps.  The searchable database provides a good starting point for developing local evacuation route programs.

The Executive Summary, Searchable Database and Full Report are available for download:

Documents & reports:

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