NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Several Mountain Avenue residents showed up at the Monday, May 22 council meeting to voice their concerns regarding traffic safety in their neighborhood.
Borough Resident Arpad Szechenyi had written a letter to the council regarding the traffic conditions and pedestrian safety on Mountain Avenue. He also appeared at the meeting to discuss the traffic safety issues, including the lack of crosswalks and sidewalks, along with other residents in his neighborhood.
The residents advised the council that it is nearly impossible and extremely dangerous to cross Mountain Avenue which runs cross the borough connecting Berkeley Heights and Summit. The speed limit on the eastbound Mountain Avenue in the borough is 40 mph, however, some residents suspect that many drivers are speeding and going close to 50 mph.
Frustrated residents have turned to the borough police for safety enforcement. The police have issued some 300 tickets to drivers for speeding in recent months. One mother regularly uses the orange flag when crossing the road with her school age son. However, many drivers don’t stop despite the bright flag, she said. The situation is “absolutely unsafe.”
Mayor Al Morgan told the residents that the borough officials are going to meet with the county officials to discuss the traffic safety issues on Mountain Avenue which is a county road. He invited some of the community members to attend the meeting as well.
Borough Administrator Doug Marvin stated that the speed limit is based on the traffic survey of what is the average vehicle speed in any given area. The speed limit is set at 85 percent of the average speed. Councilman Michael Gennaro stated that the speed limit should be based on safety. Councilman Armand Galluccio noted that the municipality can only recommend the speed limit, the county has the final say on speed limits on county roads.
When some residents suggested that the borough is “trying to hand off” the traffic situation to the county, Morgan noted that there are different rules and the borough just wants to get to the bottom of the issue. Borough police have 42 miles of roads to patrol. “We represent you,” Morgan told the concerned residents. Councilman Robert Robinson assured that the council is responsive and takes public safety matters seriously.
Borough resident Cecile Seth told her fellow residents about the federal Safe Routes to School program. She promised to provide residents with more information on the necessary paperwork. “It takes a while,” but there could be potential funds available to be used for improving pedestrian safety on Mountain Avenue, she said.