ROXBURY, NJ – Admitting that the section of Howard Boulevard in Mount Arlington between Seasons Drive and the Roxbury border is confusing and dangerous, county officials are asking highway engineering firms to come up with “potential improvements.”

The decision to issue a “request for proposals” from engineers was announced today by the Morris County freeholders. They said the effort to improve the stretch of county road – the scene of an accident that seriously wounded a Mount Arlington police officer in December – is being made in conjunction with the borough and state Assemblyman Anthony Bucco.

“The study would analyze existing conditions in the road corridor and develop a final report with concept plans for improving vehicular and pedestrian safety,” said the county. “There are three signalized intersections and several driveways within the study area. Each of the signals are owned and maintained by the state Department of Transportation, while Howard Boulevard (County Route 615) is under county jurisdiction.”

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Months, Not Years

The county wants the engineering companies to submit proposals by the end of February and said it hopes to award a contract by early April.

“The consultant then would have about three months to work up viable short- and long-term safety enhancements,” the county said. “Once approved, the county would consider moving forward with final design work and implementation. “

It said construction of short-term improvements could begin as soon as three months later “and long-term improvements could be implemented within five years.”

The county noted that the state is in the preliminary design stage for replacing the Route 80 overpass, a project that is also supposed to improve safety in the area. “But the engineering phase is expected to take another couple of years, with NJ DOT not anticipating a construction contract award until at least 2022,” the county said.

On the Same Page

“The county is working in concert with DOT, which has been briefed on the county’s plans,” said county spokesman Larry Ragonese. “We believe there are improvements to be made in the short-term that would not conflict with the state’s plans. The county wants to get moving on some of the work that can be done in the shorter term ... we feel it is important to get started sooner than later.”

Morris County Freeholder Director Doug Cabana said it is important to make some improvements as quickly as possible.

“This is a very busy and, sometimes, difficult section of road for motorists to traverse,’’ he said in the statement. “We would like to see what steps can be taken in the short term to make it safer, as we wait for the state to move ahead with its major intersection and ramps project.’’ 

Bucco, who represents Mount Arlington and Roxbury in the state Assembly and serves as Roxbury's township counsel, said, in the statement, that he is “eager to provide assistance” to the county and borough.

“It is always great to see all levels of government working together for the safety of our traveling public,” he said. “I look forward to participating in the process and lending assistance where and when needed.”

Public Involvement

The statement quoted Mount Arlington Mayor Michael Stanzilis as saying the safety of residents is his main priority. “My own teenage son drives on this road almost every day,” said the mayor. “I’m very pleased that the county is taking aggressive measures to come up with a solution.”

After a consultant is chosen, there will be three public meetings, said the county. The first will be to introduce the consultant to the municipality and allow residents to discuss the project. The second will be to present data, recommendations and concept plans. The third will be to present the preferred plan.

“As part of this project, an analysis of crash/accident history, travel patterns, weekday and weekend traffic counts and speed limit review would be conducted,” the county said.

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