ROXBURY, NJ – Developers converting Ledgewood Mall into The Shops at Ledgewood Commons are planning a major upgrade to the intersection of Route 10 and Mary Louise Avenue, according to plans detailed at a meeting Wednesday.

Plans presented to the Roxbury Planning Board at the meeting show two major changes to the intersection:

  • Mary Louse Avenue will be widened and there will be two left-turn lanes and one right-turn lane at the Route 10 intersection.
  •  A new left-turn lane will be made on westbound Route 10, at Mary Louise Avenue, so drivers no longer have to travel a mile west, to the  Drake Road U-turn, if they miss the Commerce Boulevard route to the mall.

The new intersection design comes in response to concerns about traffic flow once the struggling, 43-year-old Ledgewood Mall is renovated and filled with new tenants. Roxbury officials are particularly worried about traffic flow during the holiday shopping period.

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One benefit of adding the left-turn lane for westbound Route 10 traffic will be reduced congestion at the Main Street-to-Commerce Boulevard approach, according to the designers.

“It is projected that approximately 20 percent of the right-turn ingress trips along Righter Road and Mary Louise Avenue will utilize the direct left-turn lane if it were constructed, which would reduce the volume of traffic on the Main Street approach to the Route 10/Commerce Boulevard intersection,” they said in a letter to the board. “This is expected to be a benefit to the general motoring public as the side street approaches at this signalized intersection operate poorly … despite State improvements that were constructed along Route 10 around 2012” at the Main Street/Commerce Boulevard site.

“This gives a tremendous boost to capacity,” said Harold Maltz, president of Hamal Associates, Inc., a traffic and transportation consulting firm. “You’re able to take a little time from (Mary Louise) and give it back on Route 10.”

The designers are also planning to install a new right-turn lane into the property from Route 10 East “to allow patrons to efficiently access the site as a free-flow movement,” according to documents filed with Roxbury.

Traffic consultant Cory Chase and his colleagues analyzed traffic flow patterns that would occur during the holidays. Chase estimated there will be an increase in cars at the intersection of more than 40 percent once the new shopping center opens.

The traffic engineers initially proposed 220-foot-long left-turn lanes on Mary Louise Avenue, but realized they would be too short to accommodate drivers during peak shopping seasons, Chase told the planning board.

To quell the impending storm, Chase suggested the extension of the left-turn lanes to 350 feet, a change he included in a proposal sent Wednesday to the state Department of Transportation (DOT). He also referenced a strip of green space between the sidewalk and curb that could be removed to make way for the mega-intersection.

“The intersection can operate efficiently given what was proposed (yesterday),” Chase said, quoting the DOT’s evaluation of his plan. The planning board, which is overseeing the project on behalf of Roxbury, agreed.  

A “left only” arrow will be added to the traffic light. Officials said the arrow will give drivers more “green time” to travel through the intersection.

Chase said that the project is still in the conceptual review phase with the DOT. The next step in the review process will come once developers complete an on-the-ground survey per the DOT’s request.

In other Shops at Ledgewood Commons discussion, board members made suggestions relating to the design of an indoor walkway that will bisect the shopping center’s main structure. The enclosed walkway will make it easier for people who approach the mall from the Righter Road side to get to the front doors, which will all face the Route 10 side.

The planners expressed concern about the walkway’s appearance, suggesting they would not be happy with a bland corridor. Charles Dietz, the project’s lead architect, offered some ideas about improving aesthetics.

Murals that depict the history of Roxbury, local artisan or art gallery displays and electronic signage with information on town events were some of the suggestions Dietz made to beautify the passageway. “The applicant wants the town to be a part of this,” Dietz said. “We want to make it a nice experience for people so it doesn’t look like a giant tunnel they’re walking through.”