CAMDEN, NJ — Residents in Camden have the chance to have their voices heard on the proposed redesign of North 7th Street from Elm to Eerie.
Since stakeholder meetings kicked off in February, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership and consulting group WSP have whittled down several options over how the street could look with help from feedback provided by locals in the area.
The second virtual Zoom meeting, and third overall, to discuss the changes was held Oct. 14. The project is still in the concept study phase before funding is sought which could take between one and three years to secure.
“The purpose of this project is really to look at walkability, enhance the safety and functionality for all users and further revitalize the neighborhood,” said Jennifer Steen, deputy project manager with WSP. “We want to make [the] North 7th streets complete streets serving all users safely. This includes pedestrians, residents, vehicles, and bicyclists. We want to look at bringing the sidewalk and underground infrastructure and roadway pavement to a state of good repair, and we want to try to introduce some traffic-calming street-scaping.”
In Wednesday’s meeting, Camden Fire Chief Michael Harper pointed to the department’s concern with having bump-outs that are too large, “making our turns for our apparatus impossible without driving over the curbs. This could cause us damage to our vehicles.”
In response, Steen said the project would propose painted bump-outs rather than the actual raising of the street. During the preliminary portion of the design, vehicles will also conduct exercises on the street to ensure the CFD and other emergency personnel can get through.
One resident questioned the need to maintain the existing two-way street — saying a shift to a one-way may make it safer for school children traveling throughout the thoroughfare. However, Harper said fire trucks benefit from the current layout.
“Seventh Street and Third Street are our main arteries into the North Camden area. So, it is a highly traveled route for us during emergencies. So if we restricted that, that would be problematic for us,” he said.
Among the four alternatives, is an option to eliminate parking on the stretch of road altogether to make way for two 5-foot bike lanes.
Jackie Santiago, a longtime community activist, reacted to submitted resident comments stating that parking is not an issue on the street.
“I love that you want to install bike lanes, but we don’t need bike lanes. We need parking spots,” she said.
Kathy Cullen, project manager with Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, said right now the goal is to gain as much input from residents as possible - even if they believe one of the alternatives is not practical.
As for the current layout of North 7th St.,b“I think everybody who travels there now knows that if there's parking on both sides and somebody's coming from [one] direction…it would be hard to accommodate those vehicles,” Cullen said.
According to July survey results, 36.4% of respondents preferred parking on the Northbound side of 7th St., saying the school is on the southbound side so this alternative would comprise more parking. Another 31.8% said they wanted the street to be one-way Northbound (from State to Eerie St.), with protected bike lanes on the one-way portion.
City officials and local groups are also working to help everyone in the area feel represented in the final proposal.
Responding to other comments WSP told residents that North 7th must go two ways from Elm and State Street in order to accommodate NJ Transit bus routes, raised asphalt or speed humps cannot be added to the street due to emergency vehicles, and ATV issues won’t be addressed in this project as they are already being handled by the Camden County Police Department (CCPD), legislative action and the city’s STOPit app.
Project managers said the plan is to select a preliminary preferred alternative for the redesign this month and then have a complete concept development ready by December.
Below are the four project alternatives:
- Consolidate parking to the northbound (east) side of N. 7th Street (8” parking would be on the side of the street heading to Pyne Poynt Park)
- Two 11” wide travel lanes
- Consolidate parking to the southbound (west) side of N. 7th Street (8” parking would be on the side of the street heading to the downtown/Ben Franklin Bridge)
- Two 11” wide travel lanes
- No Parking on N. 7th Street, but 5” wide bike lanes in each direction,
- Two 10” wide travel lanes
- Make N. 7th Street a 14” wide one-way lane Northbound between State Street and Erie Street (heading towards Pyne Poynt Park)
- 8” parking on both sides of the street
- Street would be two-way between Elm St. and State St. with parking on northbound side only