Berkeley Heights Committee Considering Traffic Light at Springfield Avenue and Lone Pine Drive; Decision Expected at Next Meeting

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Members of the Berkeley Heights Township Council discuss the number of municipal cell phones distributed at its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 21. Credits: Deb Dawson
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BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Whether or not a traffic light will be placed on Springfield Avenue at Lone Pine Drive will likely be decided at the Township Council’s next meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

Traffic engineer Gary Dean explained the pros of such a light to the council during its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 21. He was presenting for the developer, the May family of the Berkeley Shopping Center, who would pay the entire cost of the light and of refurbishing Lone Pine Drive into a regular street. The cost is estimated to be $400,000. He said there would be no cost to the municipality.

Dean did a traffic study, which was later approved by the county to determine if a light is warranted.

“The May Brothers contacted me to inquire about the long range success of their shopping center, recognizing that the center has become a popular place for tenants. The charge I had was, ‘What can we do to improve traffic safety for our center and safety in the overall area. Ascertain whether a traffic signal at Springfield and Lone Pine would meet the needs,’” Dean said. Mayor Joseph Bruno said there was one pedestrian fatality there and Dean said there were 27 motor vehicle accidents.

“The time has come to modernize the shopping center, particularly with regard to left turns… A traffic signal can appropriately be justified” following all of the regulatory criteria. He said the light is not just for the CVS that is being built.

Dean said the signal would have a video camera to detect a vehicle approaching from Lone Pine Drive that would change the light on Springfield from green to red. If no cars are present on Lone Pine the light on Springfield would remain green. There will be count-downs at the pedestrian crossings and push buttons to change the light. Signals would also be coordinated electronically with lights at Snyder and Plainfield avenues “so there would not be a stop and go problem” down town.

Bruno noted there are now no crosswalks between Snyder and Plainfield.

Dean said he needed an approval resolution indicating the council’s formal approval of the light before any work could start.

Vendors from the south side of Springfield Ave. spoke in favor of the light, but no one was at the meeting to represent the businesses on the other side of the street.

Before reaching a decision, the council wanted to hear the opinion of the township planner and get some input from businesses on the north side of Springfield Ave. A letter will be sent to all businesses and homes within a 200-foot radius of the proposed light alerting them to the public hearing at the next meeting at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11. The planner was to submit his comments by the end of the week.

Also at the meeting, the council decided to reduce the number of municipal cell phones from 38 to 13 or 14 for a savings of about $13,000 per year. Currently 38 employees have municipal cell phones as compared to 11, 10, and 17 in New Providence, Long Hill and Springfield, respectively. Township Administrator Amey Upchurch is investigating
employee cell phone abuse and will submit a new policy for phones at the Sept. 11 meeting.

The mayor, council president, administrator, chief financial officer, town clerk, police chief, engineer, fire chief, OEM director, zoning officer, DPW supervisor, assistant DPW supervisor, waste water superintendent and the code official will have phones, some with data packages. All other phones will be eliminated. The monthly bill for the 38 phone is
$2,098.46.

The council unanimously approved a bond ordinance for capital improvements appropriating $1,608,873 and authorizing the issuance of $1,148,000 in bonds or notes. The Police Department, Department of Public Works, Fire Department and Road Department are all beneficiaries. The administrative area will get some new equipment
for records retention and there is money allotted to improve facilities, including a new dispatch system.

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