Terrace Avenue Traffic, Route 17 Drainage Basin Concerns Raised at Council Meeting

The drainage basin at the corner of Route 17 South and Franklin Avenue. Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis

HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ -  Concerns over pedestrian safety on Terrace Avenue and the drainage ditch at Route 17 and Franklin Avenue led the concerns of Hasbrouck Heights citizens at Tuesday’s Borough Council meeting.

Pedestrian safety has been an issue that has been brought up at several meetings this year, as Councilman Chris Hillmann and citizens have commented that drivers do not stop for pedestrians in the crosswalks waiting to cross, particularly on Terrace Avenue.

Soren Nash, who lives on Terrace Avenue, stated that he has seen numerous accidents throughout his five years of living in Hasbrouck Heights.  He noted that he has instructed his son that when walking on the sidewalk in Terrace Avenue, “he still need to be aware of the traffic, as he has “seen cars wind up in people front lawns.”  

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He also noted that in “every crosswalk from East Rutherford, through Carlstadt and into Wood-Ridge” there are Yield To Pedestrians signs but there are none in Hasbrouck Heights. Nash believed that the signs would help slow down motorists, who seem to be racing to “get through Hasbrouck Heights as fast as possible”.

Hasbrouck Heights Police Chief Mike Colaneri, Sr. explained some of the issues concerning the ideas that Nash raised.  First, Terrace Avenue is a County Road, which limits what Hasbrouck Heights can unilaterally do. He noted that many of the blocks do not line up directly, which limit the ability to put in crosswalks.  He noted there are also ADA requirements with curbing when installing a crosswalk.

Concerning the signs in the middle of the road, Chief Colaneri noted that the narrowness of Terrace Avenue created a problem with the signs.  He noted that the Boulevard does have Yield to Pedestrian signs and they are being constantly destroyed and replaced. He also noted that the signs would cause problems for the ambulances that use Terrace Avenue en route to Hackensack University Medical Center on emergency runs.

He did note that there was a safety convention coming up in the next week, and that they would be looking at various products to see if they would be helpful.  

Nash stated that while he understood the issues, he hoped we would not have to speaking about this at a meeting the future after a pedestrian had been killed.

Former Hasbrouck Heights Mayor Rose Heck addressed the council with her continued concerns about the drainage basin at the Route 17 and Franklin Avenue.  She stated that Hasbrouck Heights never wanted the basin, and that the Department of Transportation put the basin in the wrong location over the objection of the town.  

One of the items, at the time the basin was constructed, that the town demanded put in was a fence around the basin.  Heck believes the fence is necessary as a safely measure, as children can currently access the basin. The Department of Transportation initially put in an ornamental fence, but after having to replace pieces of it over the years, decided to take the fencing down.  (The fencing also hindered the Department of Transportation in maintaining the basin.)

Heck implored the Council to demand that Department of Transportation live up to its agreement and restore the fencing and continue to maintain the basin.  

Mayor DeLorenzo stated the town has been in contact with the Department of Transportation several times, over issues with the drainage basin, and had earlier in the meeting, asked Neglia Engineering Associates (the borough’s engineers) to once again contact the DOT.

She reminded the Council that the ‘squeaky wheel gets the oil,” and asserted that we have to make demands of the state.  

Councilman Justin DiPisa, who has also been vocal in his concerns over the basin, as a health hazard as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, raised a question to NEA’s Evan Jacobs,  as to whether a culvert would help solve the problems.

A culvert (which is essentially a closed pipe that is placed underground) would allow the DOT to fill in the basin, eliminating the need for a fence and also eliminate the concerns about the standing water and the resulting health concerns.   

Jacobs stated that he was not sure what the DOT’s response to that would be, nor whether the culvert was the right solution, but would do the appropriate research and contact the DOT.

DiPisa noted that maybe the DOT could be convinced with the idea that the one-time investment would eliminate several problems, and would be worth their while to make Hasbrouck Heights go away.  


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