By Jay Cook |MIDDLETOWN – All signs are pointing to the summer of 2018 as the completion date for an intersection overhaul in the Middletown Village Historic District.After initial construction began on Feb. 1, work on the Kings Highway/Church St. intersection will extend through the new year with the project significantly picking up pace once the springtime weather arrives, said Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone.Arnone said there was no holdup as the county was waiting for utility companies to come in and upgrade underground infrastructure in the area. New Jersey Natural Gas broke ground to install 8-inch gas lines and Verizon was also on site to relocate a number of utility poles. That work was completed near the end of October, he said.“We have to coordinate them into one project, and that eliminates us coming in multiple times to do work on the same corner,” said Arnone.The remaining scope of work is designed to lessen the burden on motorists who use Kings Highway and Church St. as their main commuting route. The NJ Transit North Jersey Coast Line’s Middletown station is on Church St.Lucas Brothers of Morganville was awarded the $389,389 construction bid in November 2016.The roadway on Kings Highway will be widened to allow for a left-turning lane onto Church Street. Four matte black traffic lights, as well as pedestrian crosswalks, will be added to the intersection.“There is no question you’ll see a dramatic difference,” Arnone said. “Even though the widening isn’t as dramatic, just that little bit will be good.”Preserving the feel of the historic district was important to Middletown elected officials and congregations in the immediate area. There are three historic churches along Kings Highway – First Baptist Church of Middletown (1688), Christ Episcopal Church (1702) and Dutch Reformed Church (1836).Utilizing matte black traffic signals is becoming common in New Jersey when upgrading historic districts. In an effort keep the historic feel of the area, Lucas Brothers will be bringing in 1,261 linear feet of peanut stone to line the roadways. That is the biggest single expense for the project at $39,091.Arnone said the county will look to coordinate the asphalt and paving work with nighttime construction so commuters and motorists aren’t disturbed. “You’ll get some sort of closing or detour, but it won’t be substantial,” he said.This article was first published in the Dec. 21-28, 2017 print edition of the Two River Times.