MILLBURN, NJ - Residents voiced strong opinions on proposed traffic ordinances before the Township Committee. Sergeant Fattal, Millburn Traffic Officer, fielded questions on the ordinances up for final approval, first read and proposals for future consideration.
The first change brings the Millburn Township ordinance in line with Essex County posted speed limits on Millburn Avenue and Essex Street. The speed limit on Millburn Avenue from Short Hills Avenue to Wyoming Avenue is now 25 miles per hour. Essex Street from Millburn Avenue to Douglas Street also aligns with the 25 miles per hour speed limit.
The first reading of an ordinance that prohibits left turns from the parking lot and driveway of the new Washington School between 7:30 am-9:00 am and 2:30 pm-4:00 pm drew audience reaction.
Committeewoman Dianne Eglow voiced her concern with the ordinance. "I have concerns about this. I think it is a bad idea to send all these school buses and all the carpoolers into the same rigid area of Washington School which will then send them right back to Main Street through South Mountain section."
Sgt. Fattal explained the rationale behind the elimination of the left turn. "The traffic bureau went out; we analyzed the area of Washington School, we analyzed the safest routes to get buses, pedestrians and cars to the school and away from the school. With the use of the horseshoe which is going to be on the southern side of the school, we want them to exit and not have them go towards where people will be dropping off their kids."
He continued explaining that the lack of traffic control devices on Spring Street and students utilizing the crosswalks would make it dangerous to allow cars and buses to make the left. Fattal said, "We want to get them safely out, away from the Washington School to a traffic light where it is timed to get them on to Main Street which is a main road away from the school."
Members of the audience scoffed at the idea of traffic making the left onto Main Street stating vehicles now, outside of the school year, are unable to make the left hand turn.
Fattal concluded his comments saying, "Safety is our biggest concern."
Committeeman Sam Levy asked Sgt. Fattal if the Millburn School District concurred with the recommendation and he indicated they were in agreement but added that changes can be made if deemed necessary once the Washington School opens.
Cary Heller questioned changing the designated drop-off zone for Washington School from the south parking horseshoe to the north parking lot to eliminate the need for the a no left turn by the school. Sgt. Fattal indicated that those decisions are up to the district.
Resident Debbie Fox questioned the timing of the no-left rule. "Why don't we wait and see the impact on Main Street in that area once the Washington School opens because as it is, Main Street is a disaster at that time of the morning."
A public hearing for this ordinance is scheduled for September 5.
As part of 'new business,' two potential traffic ordinances on the agenda drew strong reactions from the public.
The first prospective measure would eliminate the right-on-red from at Main Street (north) and Ridgewood Road. Sgt. Fattal, after detailing the area of concern and the external factors of schools in the area said, "We feel it is in the best interest of the town to make that a "no turn on red."
Audible disapproval came from the gallery.
During public comment, resident Layni Rothbort stated, "My concern about removing the right on red at Main and Ridgewood will only serve to back up traffic even further down Main Street, not only at 5:00 pm or 7:30/8 o'clock in the mornings but also during the day. It does back up and that right on red, if the parking spaces were removed in front of the cleaners and the train station, that would remove probably ten cars from the queue at that light. If the right on red is eliminated, it's going to backup all the way down to Morris Avenue at many times of the day."
Merrily Rieseback concurred with Rothbort on the parking spaces. "I would actually welcome it [no turn on red] if the parking spaces in front of the cleaners and the nail salon are eliminated so that the traffic doesn't totally back up down to Morris Avenue." Rieseback continued calling for greater police enforcement, "I think the town could make a lot of revenue if you parked some police cars there and ticketed that ran those stop signs. We need enforcement."
Resident Katherine Franco also called for greater enforcement of the traffic laws. "We need to figure out a way to have unmarked vehicles, stationary in certain places and really put the pedal to the metal and have people be unafraid of giving tickets to people that aren't following the traffic laws."
The next Township Committee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 5 at 7:30 pm.