MILLBURN, NJ – Crash data compiled by the Millburn Police Department shows a significant decrease in the number of pedestrian and traffic accidents in downtown Millburn.
The data tracked the number of accidents from January 1, 2014 through March 1, 2018 to include the period of construction during Phase 1 of Complete Streets that began in July of 2016. The crash data tracked overall accidents in the downtown Millburn vicinity as well as specific locations where accidents were traditionally higher than other areas of the downtown.
According to the data, there were six pedestrian and bicycle crashes in 2014, in 2015 and 2016 the number of crashes increased by two in each year. As of March 2018, there were no reported accidents in downtown Millburn. This includes the high-traffic intersections of Millburn Ave./Main St., Essex St./Main St. and Millburn Ave./Spring St.
In the high-traffic intersection of Millburn Ave. and Main St., the total number of crashes went from 32 in 2014 to 13 in 2018, a 60% reduction. Similarly on the intersection of Main and Essex Streets, the number of crashes declined from 32 to 3, 90% reduction, during the same period.
The yearly total of crashes in downtown Millburn that includes Millburn Ave., Essex St., Lackawanna Pl., Glen Ave., Ridgewood Rd. Rector St. and Lot 5 went down 73% from 2014 to Sept. 2018. Since the implementation of Phase One of Complete Streets, the number of crashes in these areas decreased from 131 in 2016 to 43 in 2018 (as of Sept.) representing a 68% reduction in the amount of accidents.
Two principal drivers led the Millburn Township Committee in 2014 to develop a comprehensive plan that led to adoption of Complete Streets: Safety and Infrastructure.
Millburn Township had experienced an unfortunate history of auto and pedestrian accidents in the downtown area prior to the development of Complete Streets, according to the township. Pedestrian and vehicle collisions were primarily attributed to narrow sidewalks, traffic patterns, long crosswalks and pervasive speeding along Millburn Ave. As for infrastructure, sidewalks and roadways were aging and downtown flooding was a common occurrence during heavy rains.
The initial kick-off of the Complete Streets initiative was in Dec. of 2014 when a sub-committee was tasked by the Millburn Township Committee to spearhead a conceptual design and plan for the project. In Jan. of 2015, the sub-committee had sufficient data and forward movement to engage key personnel such as the township engineer, Millburn Police and Fire Departments and other essential departments.
Armed with a logistics timetable, a conceptual design and a comprehensive plan, the sub-committee launched a series of review sessions in May of 2015 to engage township residents, business owners, the Downtown Millburn Development Alliance, the Millburn/Short Hills Chamber of Commerce, the Millburn Public Schools Board of Education, the Millburn Environmental Commission Safe Routes to School and others to review the initial concepts and provide feedback. The following month the sub-committee began a series of “Open House” informational sessions for the community to present concepts and gather feedback.
Based on feedback from township subject matter experts and Millburn stakeholders, the next four months were dedicated to traffic studies, identifying project professionals, engaging Essex County officials and budget reviews. By Oct. of 2015, additional stakeholder sessions to include the public were initiated for further review and feedback.
The data demonstrates what traffic experts and urban designers had predicted would be the outcome upon completion of Phase One. At a township committee meeting in Feb. 2016, David Lustberg, principal designer of Complete Streets, and traffic expert John McCormack with Sam Schwartz Engineering explained how safety could be improved through the implementation of Complete Streets principals. They stated that by expanding sidewalks, reducing vehicle lanes, creating bump outs and limiting turns would naturally slow traffic down. The slowing of traffic will cause more deliberation of movement. Moreover, pedestrians will have less ground to traverse when crossing a street.
On Oct. 24, 2017, Millburn Township was given the Complete Streets Excellence Award presented by the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University and the Officer of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs at the New Jersey Department of Transportation for Phase One. The award recognizes a municipality that has demonstrated excellence in Complete Streets policy development and implementation.
Phase Two, the development of Millburn Ave. from Main St. to Wyoming Ave, Essex St. from Main St. to Parkview Dr. has not begun. No scheduled date has been publicly announced.