NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – For years, Livingston Avenue has acted as a wide speedway for some drivers, a view supported by a Rutgers University report. Over the past 15 years, hundreds of drivers and pedestrians, including schoolchildren, have reportedly sustained injuries on the main road.
After New Brunswick’s top fire official struck three kids in a crosswalk in May 2014, residents loudly voiced their concerns. City and county officials responded by vowing to fix Livingston Avenue’s longstanding safety problems.
That promise has prodded the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders to recently award a $1.08 million contract to T&M Associates of Middletown. The company is performing a number of pre-construction tasks for what has been dubbed the Livingston Avenue Complete Streets project.
Because the federal government is funding the project, the engineering firm has roughly one year to submit final plans for bid. The outline is due on Dec. 29, according to the county.
In its proposal, T&M said it believed construction costs would reach $5.9 million. The bulk of that money, according to the document, would cover pavement, pedestrian lighting and traffic signal improvements.
The project on the county-owned road calls for four existing vehicle lanes between Elizabeth and New streets to be turned into two vehicle lanes, with a center aisle for turns and two bicycle lanes, according to county officials. Parking on each side of the street would remain.
Traffic signals at the avenue’s intersections with New, Suydam, Handy and Sanford streets are also slated to be modified. They are expected to conform to various regulations, according to the county.
As of last week, T&M had finished 95 percent of the field survey. Its engineers were also in the process of developing maps.
County officials said the firm has identified utilities near the site of the project. T&M staffers are “in the process” of contacting utility companies.
Engineers are also conducting right-of-way research and developing the plan.
Middlesex County has divided the pre-construction period into several phases. T&M is expected to submit its first round of work on April 28. Three Due dates follow in September and December, according to officials.
Plans will be reviewed by both the county and New Brunswick City Hall, according to county documents.
Construction work will likely go to bid next winter.
The Rutgers study from three years ago found that a so-called “road diet” could reduce crashes on Livingston Avenue by 19 percent. Although improvements could cause more traffic on the road, the report found that wouldn’t be substantial and would be welcome, as many cars speed along the avenue.
Middlesex County reportedly implemented an “emergency road diet” in 2014, in the wake of the crash that hurt three kids. That led to a center-turning lane being installed near Livingston Avenue elementary schools.