MONTVILLE, NJ - The Montville Township Planning Department presented three new Master Plan sections, called “elements,” to the Planning Board at a regular meeting on Nov. 12. The elements included the Circulation Plan, the Community Facilities Plan and the Historic Preservation Plan. Click HERE to read Part I on Historic Preservation and HERE to read Part II on “Community Facilities.” Part III of the three articles will highlight the Circulation Plan Element.
Circulation Plan Element
The Circulation Plan element was written in two sections: a summary of the Township’s “existing circulation conditions,” meaning, the way that traffic moves through the Township. This includes movement via air, water, road and rail, according to the element. The second section lists recommended improvements “intended to promote safe and convenient travel along and across streets through a comprehensive, integrated transportation network for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation riders and people of all ages and abilities.”
Following a list and description of all major and mid-sized roadways in the Township, the report detailed accident statistics. Between 2001 and 2009, approximately 500 accidents occurred per year in Montville Township, which equates to an average of 1.4 accidents per day. An average of 1.7 fatal accidents occurred per year, and approximately 105 “injury accidents” occurred per year. Overall, the annual percentage of accidents considered “severe (fatal or injury)” in the Township has averaged approximately 21 percent, according to the report. In those years, 16 fatal accidents occurred.
When those statistics are broken down by type of roadway on which they occurred,
- Approximately 154 per year occur on the minor arterial road system (such as Main Road/202 and Changebridge Road)
- Approximately 130 per year occur on the “local road system” (streets that are under Township jurisdiction intended to provide access to specific locations in the Township)
- Approximately 90 accidents per year occur on the interstate system (287 and 80)
- Approximately 74 accidents per year occur on the “principal arterial road system” (Route 46 and Bloomfield Avenue/Route 159)
- Approximately 44 accidents per year occur on the “collector roadways” (for example, Boonton Avenue, Mountain Road, and Vreeland Avenue)
- Approximately 12 accidents per year occur on the private property.
The report further described the intersection of US Route 46 and Chapin Road as having the most accidents, at an average of 14.5 accidents per year. Only the intersection of Hook Mountain Road and Bloomfield Avenue came close to this number, at an average of 10 accidents per year.
The report explored public transportation use, indicating that NJ Transit officials stated that the Towaco train station services about 100 passengers daily, and that the park-and-ride lots at the Towaco train station are about 40 percent full on an average weekday. The report also mapped out existing sidewalks and bikeways (there are no bikeways).
The report delineated the commuting patterns of workers aged 16 and over, from 2009 data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau. Of the total 10,152 workers in Montville, almost half (44.6%) work in New Jersey but outside of Morris County. About one quarter work in Morris County but outside of Montville, twenty percent work in Montville, and eleven percent work outside of New Jersey. Most drove alone in a personal vehicle (77%). The mean travel time to work for Montville residents is 30.1 minutes. Most workers in Montville depart for work between 7:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. (51%).
The statistics are used by the Township planning staff to make recommendations for improvements to the Township circulation system.
Route 202/Main Road Corridor Upgrades
The first set of recommendations is for the Route 202/Main Road corridor. These recommendations “seek to retain the overall character of the Montville community, reduce traffic volumes, promote the use of non-motorized modes of travel, and improve the overall aesthetic and function of the Route 202 corridor.”
1. “Construct new roadways in the vicinity of Route 202 and Changebridge Road in order to divert trips from this congested intersection, thereby reducing delays and ‘queuing.’” Changes to this area were also recommended in the 2010 update to the Land Use Plan, and they include “a new bypass roadway that would extend from Route 202 opposite the 287 northbound ramps, traverse through the area, and connect with Changebridge Road in the vicinity of Kayhart Place” (which is part of the Change Bridge condominium complex near Extra Space Storage on Changebridge Road). The 2010 report also recommended that Changebridge Road be “extended northward from its intersection with Route 202 and loop around the rear of the properties in this designated area,” near the Montville police station. This construction would involve installing a traffic light by Kayhart Place and modifying the traffic light at the intersection of 202 and 287 northbound ramps to “facilitate improved traffic flow.”
2. The plan recommends “traffic calming devices, such as speed humps and/or appropriate signage” be installed on Schneider Lane to discourage drivers from diverting to that street instead of turning right onto Changebridge from Route 202.
3. Widen northbound Changebridge Road at 202 to add another turn lane.
4. Discourage the widening of Route 202 for additional vehicular travel lanes “in order to maintain the present character and scale” of the area and prevent more traffic capacity. The Township does not have jurisdiction over Route 202; it is a Morris County Road.
The plan further recommends examining the following intersections for potential improvements: Route 202 at River Road, Route 202 at Valhalla Road and Route 202 at Taylortown Road.
Schneider Lane resident Mary Ann Henry stated, “The street has definitely become more trafficked over the last few years. The speed of all drivers down the street is worrisome as I walk the dog and attempt to leave my driveway. I think speed bumps might be more of a hindrance for residents on the street than those passing through. Look at the traffic on Millers Lane – those bumps don't really stop drivers that much.”
Towaco Center Improvements
Recently the Towaco Center Core and Transitional Area zone districts were created by Township planning board staff to “establish a mixed-use transit-oriented area […] that will improve the appearance and function of the area” near the Towaco train station. Circulation improvements were recommended in the Circulation Plan to improve traffic flow and “promote pedestrian and bicycle accessibility, in a vibrant, walkable setting.” These recommended improvements include realigning Route 202 in front of the Towaco train station to “accommodate on-street parallel parking” in front of stores, instead of the back-out parking spots that exist currently. The Circulation Plan further recommended widening the NJ Transit trestles, realigning Firehouse Road with Indian Hill Road, restricting on-street parking to two hours during the day, reducing the speed limit, and installing bikeways and improved sidewalks in the area.
Old Bloomfield Avenue Traffic Calming
The report criticizes Old Bloomfield Avenue in Pine Brook, stating that it is “typified in a number of areas by a negative aesthetic image, which is the result of excessive curb cut-widths along the frontage of sites, haphazard parking arrangements, an overall lack of pedestrian amenities, and a general lack of landscape […] and screen elements. The wide shoulder area along the corridor also contributes to excessive speeds and hazardous traffic conditions in many instances.”
The planning staff recommends that the Township limit the “width of curb cuts along the frontage of properties,” encourage “shared curb cuts,” require landscape amenities, implement sidewalk, walkway, and bikeway improvements, and clearly mark on-street parking spaces to improve aesthetics and reduce speeds of traffic on the street.
Additional Road Improvements
The plan recommended realignment of River Road at Viewmont Terrace and Waughaw Road north of Duynecrest Road, but deemed these changes “low priority.” The report also recommended that Montville officials investigate the feasibility of widening Old Bloomfield Avenue at Hook Mountain Road and Route 46 at Hook Mountain Road, and deemed these changes a “high priority.”
The report also recommended two recreation paths. The first would follow the former route of the Morris Canal, and extend from Route 287 near Boonton to the Lincoln Park Line. “Several of the parcels along the route of the [former] canal are owned by the Township, while easements allowing public access are in place on several other parcels.”
The second pedestrian/recreation path proposed would be a north-south route located within the right-of-way of Changebridge Road, extending from the former Morris Canal route to Woodmont Road. “The walkway should be wider than a conventional sidewalk and provide recreational opportunity for walkers, joggers, runners and slow cyclists with safety from moving traffic” and be patterned after the Boulevard in Mountain Lakes. The proposed walkways would be “separated from the roadway by a landscaped buffer.”
A “bikeway plan” and further north-south public bus routes were also recommended in the element.
After presenting the elements in a power point presentation to the Planning Board, planning consultant Joseph Burgis told the board that the three elements “are not obligatory, but the Township chose to prepare them because they’re so important. If these elements are approved, however, the governing body [the Township Committee] should look at them for inclusion in budgeting.”
Planning Board Chairman Gary Lewis thanked Town Planner Meghan Hunscher for her part in preparing the report, which took three years. Hunscher stated, “It was an excellent way to begin my career in Montville Township.”