LIVINGSTON, NJ — The new traffic signal equipment recently installed at the intersection of East Northfield Road and Chestnut Street in Livingston was celebrated on Wednesday with a commemorative ribbon cutting ceremony.
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr., joined Livingston Mayor Shawn Klein and members of the Livingston Township Council; Acting Township Manager Russ Jones; County Engineer Sanjeev Varghese; Maurice Rached of Maser Consulting; Anthony Cifelli of Foggia Trinity Electric; and Essex County Freeholders Patricia Sebold and Leonard Luciano in cutting the ribbon.
The project, which is an example of how the county and the township worked together to modernize infrastructure to enhance safety for pedestrians and motorists, began in 2015 when residents brought safety issues to the mayor and council’s attention. After a traffic study determined that the intersection was indeed a dangerous one, the Township of Livingston approached the Essex County Department of Public Works (DPW) with a proposal to install traffic control devices.
“This new traffic light was the result of concerned residents coming forward and making a request to our council,” said Klein. “First, we studied the intersection to see if action was warranted and we found that, based on the record of motor vehicle accidents, it was. We then worked with our terrific Essex County representatives, including County Executive Joe DiVincenzo and his staff, as well as our County Freeholder, Pat Sebold, to get this done.”
According to Klein, the council requested and ensured that the light would be a "smart" light with cameras to sense when cars are waiting. As a resident of that neighborhood who sits at the light every day, Klein said it “has been functioning so well” thus far.
“There were initial public concerns that the light would cause large backups along Chestnut and that has not happened,” he said. “The vast majority of people I have spoken to say they feel safer and are very happy the light is finally in place.”
Sebold, a Livingston resident, said making left turns at this intersection has always been a concern and that a light was greatly needed. She added that both the county and the township believe making these heavily traveled roads as safe as possible is a top priority.
“I’m really thrilled that this light is up,” she said. “I have friends who live in the neighborhood who didn’t want the light and didn’t realize how much it was needed. Travelling West on Northfield and trying to make a left into this street is a real problem and I think this is a wonderful addition to this road.”
Sebold gave the Livingston Township Council credit for taking the steps to make this light possible. Luciano echoed Sebold, stating that public safety is a priority no matter the cost, especially in a town like Livingston that is heavily traveled both by vehicle and foot.
It was also noted that since Riker Hill Elementary School is nearby, the newly repaired the newly installed crosswalks and pedestrian signals would greatly improve pedestrian safety in the area.
"When Livingston officials recommended the need for the signal, we moved ahead immediately with the project and worked with the Township to move the work ahead and minimize any disruption to residents and motorists,” said DiVincenzo. “This is an example of how different levels of government can pool their resources do what is best for the community.”
Maser Consulting of Red Bank received a contract to design the intersection upgrades. Foggia Trinity Electric from Scotch Plains was awarded a publicly bid contract for $282,142 to perform the construction work. Essex County paid two-thirds of the construction costs and Livingston paid one-third. Construction started in September 2016 and was completed in about six months.
According to the county DPW, the newly installed traffic signals meet the most modern standards and are equipped with LED lights that shine brighter and last longer. It also is equipped with GPS clocks to ensure that traffic signal coordination with signals at other nearby intersections is maintained.
Also installed were high-visibility crosswalks, pedestrian signals with countdown timers and push buttons with feedback. Sidewalks, curbs and pavement that were damaged during construction were repaired or replaced.