ROXBURY, NJ – A consultant is collecting information about possible safety improvements to Howard Boulevard at the Roxbury/Mount Arlington border and the public is invited to talk about the issue at a public information session in three weeks.

The consultant, Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson, was hired by Morris County to analyze the section of the road – which is County Route 615 – between Season Drive and the Route 80 ramps. The county decided to study the stretch shortly after Mount Arlington Police Sgt. James Distasio was seriously injured when he was accidentally struck there by a motorist in December.

The “public information center” will take place Sept. 5, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Mount Arlington Public School, 235 Howard Boulevard.

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County and municipal officials are going to be at the session along with representatives from the consulting firm, said the county. It noted the Sept. 5 session will be the first of three public meetings and is designed mainly “to introduce the consultant to the municipality and allow residents to discuss the project.”

The next session will be where the consultant presents data and concept plans. The third will be to present the preferred plan, said the county.

Ramping Up the Safety

“We intend to keep our promise to see what can be done to make this road safer for motorists and pedestrians,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Director Doug Cabana. “We encourage interested residents to attend the Sept. 5 public session.''

The proposed county project differs from one being undertaken in the area by the state.

With that endeavor, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to remove the current Route 80 bridge over Howard Boulevard, replace it with a larger structure, widen Howard Boulevard below the span and do major upgrades to the interstate highway’s on- and off-ramps.

The county’s consultant is collecting information about the road, “including an analysis of crash/accident history, travel patterns, weekday and weekend traffic counts and speed limit patterns,” said the county. It is also “making first-hand observations of driving patterns and motorists’ behavior.”

Lights and Driveways

Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson was directed to propose “a series of conceptual and viable short- and long-term safety enhancements,” the county said, noting there are three signalized intersections and several driveways in the study area, with each signal owned and maintained by the state DOT.

The county noted the state DOT’s project will include traffic signal modifications. “However, the engineering phase is expected to take another couple of years, with NJ DOT not anticipating a construction contract award until at least 2022,” the county noted.

State Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, who represents Mount Arlington and Roxbury, said he would work to help coordinate the county and state efforts.

“I am pleased to see the county continuing to move forward to address the safety issues in this heavily trafficked area,” he said. “I will continue to lend assistance with the NJDOT when needed to make these improvements.’’

Bucco, a Republican seeking re-election in November, “met with the (county) freeholders some months ago to discuss the situation and they, together, worked up a plan to address the situation,” said Morris County Government Communications Director Larry Ragonese. “He also has offered to use whatever leverage he may have as a Legislator to help get state support for needed improvements.”

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