CAMDEN, NJ — In a month, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership will begin prompting Camden residents for their thoughts on the redesign of a 1.6-mile stretch of land along Federal and Market streets. 

But before the ink is dry on this new look — considered vital for connecting downtown Camden to the waterfront — a neighborhood group with longstanding roots in the area received a preview Monday night.

“The reality is we need a better complete street model to encourage people to park and generate business on these streets,” Jonathan Latko, president of the Cooper Grant Neighborhood Association, told TAPinto Camden. “We need to operate on the mentality of vision. We need to have a vision of what it will look like. Not what it is.”

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A group of over a dozen community members gathered for the association’s first meeting of the year at Rutgers-Camden’s Alumni House on Cooper Street. They were joined by newly-elected 5th District Assemblyman Bill Moen, Community Commander and Lt. of the Camden County Police Department Zsakhiem James, and Cooper’s Ferry Partnership Project Manager Kathleen Cullen.

The redesign will be supported by $10 million awarded by the NJ Department of Transportation in 2018.

The funds will also work to improve a section of Flanders Avenue and Federal Street — the corporate home base of Subaru of America and Campbell's Soup.

In a presentation during the meeting, Cullen highlighted how the redesign intends to tackle congestion problems on the streets, as well as “increase the development” of Camden’s downtown and waterfront.

Room for improvement

As it stands, Federal Street goes out of the city, while Market Street comes in.

The four alternatives, which Cullen emphasized are preliminary, include the following:

  • Alternative 1 — Two lanes in each direction at all times

    • Would eliminate all parking

  • Alternative 2 — Parking restricted during peak hours 

    • Two westbound lanes and one eastbound lane per roadway during the AM peak hours 

    • Total number of parking spots available during the AM peak hours: 78 on Market Street and 18 on Federal Street

    • During the AM peak hours (6 to 9 a.m.) parking is allowed on the south side of each roadway and no parking is allowed on the north side of each roadway

    • Two eastbound lanes and one westbound lane per roadway during the PM peak hours 

    • Total number of parking spots available during the PM peak hours: 51 on Market Street and 37 on Federal Street

    • During the PM peak hours (3 to 7 p.m.) parking is allowed on the north side of each roadway and no parking is allowed on the south side of each roadway

  • Alternative 3 — A reversible lane with parking on one side

    • Two westbound lanes and one eastbound lane per roadway during the AM peak hours

    • Total number of parking spots available during the AM peak hours: 78 on Market Street and 37 on Federal Street

    • During the AM peak hours (6 to 9 a.m.) no parking is allowed on the south side or north side of each roadway

    • Two eastbound lanes and one westbound lane per roadway during the PM peak hours

    • Total number of parking spots available during the PM peak hours: 78 on Market Street and 37 on Federal Street

    • During the PM peak hours (3 to 7 p.m.) no parking is allowed on the south side or north side of each roadway

  • Alternative 4 — Three lanes per roadway with parking on one side

    • Market Street

      • Two westbound lanes and one eastbound lane

      • No parking on the north side of the roadway

      • Total of 78 spaces available

    • Federal Street

      • One westbound lane and two eastbound lanes

      • No parking on the south side of the roadway

      • 37 spaces available

“My whole thought process is we really want to be on Market Street and think about the flow of traffic and the flow of people,” said Latko at the meeting’s conclusion. “The biggest challenge right now with existing businesses coming, which I welcome, is the shuttles that run to 5th and Cooper [Street].  People should be walking down Market Street, walking down Cooper Street...generating business and making it safer in the process.”

Latko noted that roughly 100 parking spots stand to be impacted by the redesign, but that really the priority is the vibrancy of the community.

Generating business

Nick Stylianos, who owns a rental property on Market Street, said that during the summer cars tend to take up existing parking on Market Street leaving nary a spot for visitors coming into the area. 

“People come to the area for concerts and instead of paying upwards of $20 or $40 for a parking lot, they park on Market Street,” he said. “You can say 'enforce the law' but people will always go for the cheaper option, so that needs to be addressed too.” 

Benjamin Saracco, a volunteer for the Cooper Grant Neighborhood Association, and Camden resident for almost three years, suggested a sort of hybrid of Alternative 1.

“Is there any way that there will be an alternative that has parking on both sides Market [Street] and maybe no parking at all on Federal Street?” he asked during the meeting.

Cullen, who said public meetings are expected to begin in February, noted Saracco’s recommendation and said all ideas will be considered. She also noted that the actual width of the street will not be altered in the redesign process.

The project would replace existing traffic signals with new equipment and controllers and install dynamic message signs.

We also plan to add, “intelligent traffic signals that can be programmed or managed by a laptop,” Cullen added.

Said traffic signals are expected to provide residents with feedback on best routes depending on real-time updates, such as an event along the waterfront.

Feedback will be collected from residents until approximately June or July — at which time a report will be laid out to make a recommendation over the final design.

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