BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Although major changes to try to reduce speeding and vehicle accidents at the intersection of Canterbury Way and Minebrook Road are still on hold, some safety measures already have been put in place, or are planned for the near future.
Some steps taken, or on way
Stop signs have already been placed in crosswalks at the accident-prone intersection, Police Chief Mike Shimsky confirmed. Next, red beacon lights will be installed on stop signs already located on Canterbury, which now is the stop street that crosses the through streets of Minebrook and Somerville Road extension, officials said at last week's Township Committee meeting.
The flashing beacons each cost $2,500, and will be installed before additional safety measures are made at the intersection, Township Engineer Tom Timko added in an email.
Timko had outlined additional "traffic calming" ideas at the committee meeting, including a speed limit reduction to 25 m.p.h. and the construction of traffic islands that might be either curbed and grass covered or designs on the pavement.
However, after hearing comments from residents expressing some concerns about the various proposals _ and also again calling for a four-way stop at the intersection _ members of the Township Committee declined to take action last week.
Deputy Mayor James Baldassare Jr. said he had appreciated the comments and thought maybe officials should take some time to consider what would best benefit the intersection.
In response to an email, Shimsky that already stop signs have been placed in crosswalks on Minebrook, and on Canterbury near the intersection. "The purpose of those signs are to alert motorists of the potential presence of pedestrians in the crosswalks," chief said.
Twenty crashes since 2016 at location
Since 2016, the police department has responded to 20 crashes at the intersection, Shimsky reported. Six took place in in 2016; six in 2017, seven in 2018, and 1 this year so far, according to police figures. Neighbors also report that "near-misses" are very common.
No fatalities have occurred at the intersection; however most had reported injuries, Shimsky added. "The vast majority occurred during daylight hours and clear weather."
The Township Committee has heard a few updates from Timko at meetings, but apparently yet haven't found a long-term solution for which to give a green light.
"Ultimately, what people would like to see is a concerted effort to slow [traffic] on Canterbury," said resident Kevin Orr, who said he is president of a local association. He noted some homeowners are particularly opposed to a suggestion that street lighting at some spots might help the problem.
Nearby residents have repeatedly encouraged the township to install a four-way stop, which they said apparently work at busy intersections such as the Somerville Road entrance to The Hills development, and also at the intersection of Church Street and Somerville Road near Harry Dunham Park.
In response to residents' suggestions that a type of speed-slowing road bump be installed, officials said that they create a problem for speeding ambulances carrying vulnerable patients, as well as local snow plows.
Resident Todd Edelstein reported an earlier refrain from residents that drivers should be held accountable for putting down their cell phones, an issue that apparently was a factor in a recent crash.
Edelstein offered his opinion that increased police presence _ which he said should take place in cars that are clearly police vehicles rather than dark vehicles with barely visible letters on the side identifying the police department _ likely would also help deter speeding at the intersection.