CAMDEN, NJ — North Camden residents on Thursday began what-will-be a long trek to help redesign and refurbish several blocks of pothole-riddled streets along 7th Street.

“Can we look to limit the amount of trucks that come down here?” “Is it possible to eliminate parking all together?” “Will street lights with timers be added as part of the project?”

These were some questions posed by residents that gathered at the Northgate II apartments just a short walk from where the development is expected to begin. 

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Cooper’s Ferry Partnership Project Manager Kathy Cullen was at the meeting, as were representatives from Canadian-based consulting group, WSP — which is designing the conceptual development study for the project that spans from Elm to Erie Street.

On Thursday afternoon along the corridor, two cars ducked into the opposite lane to avoid gaping holes in the street as a school bus idled by as they cleared the road. Several storefronts make up the seven or so blocks, which run from Molina School down to the Mastery High School and Pyne Poynt Park.

“The goal of this project is to promote the walk-ability [of the area] and enhance the safety,” said Jennifer Steen, Lead Civil Engineer for WSP during the meeting. “We want the functionality for all users to be improved and to revitalize the neighborhood.”

Steen told residents that the design keeps in mind the addition of underground infrastructure, better roadway pavement, decorative lighting, as well as making the corridor more accessible. 

Senior Technical Analyst of WSP Carlos Bastida, who was in part present at the meeting for any residents that solely spoke Spanish, said “everybody” is being considered including pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

Accounting for history

An outline of factors were taken into account in the design and engineering work — including the 2008 North Camden Neighborhood Plan and the 2017 Transportation Infrastructure Assessment Report.

Consultants, for instance, noted that 7th Street from Elm to Erie experienced 14 accidents from 2015 to 2017. 

Between the same period, the 0.28-stretch of block had three reported collisions involving vehicles and pedestrians and seven crashes involving a parked vehicle being hit. Consultants also estimated that 116 vehicles travel through the streets each hour during the morning peak rush and 119 each hour during the evening peak time.

WSP officials said the project is part of a multi-phase plan to upgrade North 7th Street. 

Another parcel of land in the neighborhood from Linden to Elm Street is scheduled to receive street scape and transportation improvements this summer. This project, funded by the state, cost roughly $200,000 to design and approximately $2.8 million for construction. State Street is also receiving improvements.

The Elm to Erie Street redesign, “is expected to cost more than the Linden to Elm Street improvements,” Cullen told TAPinto Camden at the meeting. 

As for the timeline, Steen estimated that it would not be completed until 2022 or 2023. 

“It all depends on the funding,” she said.

What to do with 30-feet

At this point of the process, WSP is meeting with residents and stakeholders in the community. 

Michael Tirado, a resident, inquired at the meeting whether the three alternatives presented at the meeting were the only options at this point. 

WSP and Cooper’s Ferry officials said that was not the case, as designers are still taking into account feedback.

In fact, surveys were handed out to residents at the meeting that asked, among other things, your main form of transportation to reach the area, whether you prioritize walking, biking, transit, local businesses, traffic congestion or a fill-in option, for the project area, and if you would support eliminating parking along the North 7th Street.

Residents could also express if they’d like to see benches, bicycle racks or anything else along the street.

As of now, the street affords 14 feet travel lanes in both directions and 8 feet on each side for parked cars.

“I think we should consider curb outs if possible to make it easier for people walking to get around,” said resident, Gloria Banks during the meeting. 

At its core the redesign comes down to how to reconfigure 30 feet of space.

The current alternatives are as follows:

Alternative 1

 

Alternative 2

 

Alternative 3

 

Parking Along Northbound Parking Along Southbound

Installation of Bike Lanes                                        

Two 11' wide travel lanes Two 11' wide travel lanes Two 10' wide travel lanes
One 8' parking along North Bound North 7th Street One 8' parking along Southbound North 7th Street Two 5' wide bike lanes

*WSP noted that all alternatives include sidewalk replacement, streetsacpnig, tree plantations, and striped bump outs at intersection corners 

A rough schedule, provided to attendees of the meeting in Spanish as well, expects another stakeholder meeting to take place in April. 

Furthermore, the schedule will go as follows: A Complete Alternative Development and a Local Officials Briefing in May, Selecting a Preliminary Preferred Alternative and have the public vote on the option they believe is most ideal in June, and a complete concept development in July. 

To fill out the survey online click here.

To be added to an email list for updates on future meetings fill out the survey or email Jennifer.Steeen@wsp.com.

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