CHATHAM, NJ - Megan Alperowitz, a junior at Chatham High, came to the Chatham Board of Education meeting to seek approval for a flashing light and school zone designation for a portion of Shunpike Road where student-athletes cross over to Cougar Field.

As part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Alperowitz, a resident of Shunpike Road, has been researching the dangers in the daily crossings to Cougar Field.

On Monday night, she sought the approval of the BOE before she moves forward to petition the Chatham Township Committee for an ordinance that would require a flashing traffic light when student-athletes are present or events are being held at Cougar Field.

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"Students are nervous or scared before crossing," Alperowitz said. "Student safety is on the line every time they cross the street. I'm here tonight seeking your support and approval to turn a section of Shunpike Road into a school zone so that high school students can cross the street more safely for after-school sports practices.

"Everyday students cross at a very dangerous intersection where cars have a hard time seeing them because they come out unexpectedly and it doesn't give a lot of time for drivers to react."

Megan Alperowitz outlines her reasoning for asking that a portion of Shunpike Road be designated a School Zone to benefit students walking to Cougar Field

Alperowitz reported that the speed limit on Shunpike Road is 35 miles per hour and cited a study that showed that 11,537 cars drove between Noe and Lafayette avenues every day. She also quoted a study that said that pedestrians struck by cars traveling 40 mph only had a 15 percent chance of survival. 

In researching the issue, Alperowitz talked to students crossing Shunpike, spoke with Chatham Township Administrator Robert Hoffmann, the Chatham Township Police Department and the Safe Routes to School Committee.

"For three weeks, I observed and counted 80 students crossing daily, with many trucks and cars not slowing down and even honking their horns at them," Alperowitz said.

Alperowitz was complimented for the thoroughness of her report by board member Michael Valenti, who rated it as one of the best he's ever heard. 

Alperowitz, who also quoted the legal standards for designating a school zone, has collected 650 signatures on a petition in favor of her plan.