SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Members of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, along with representatives from the state, and towns of South Plainfield and Edison, joined together July 19, shovels in hand, to officially break ground on a long-awaited traffic improvement project in the area in and around Oak Tree Road and Woodland Avenue.

“Most public projects just make sense…[and] today is one of those days where we all get together behind a project that improves safety and improves the flow of traffic through South Plainfield, Edison and Middlesex County,” South Plainfield Mayor Matt Anesh told the crowd gathered Wednesday at the Toranco Oak Tree Plaza.

The $2.2 million project, part of Middlesex’ Capital Improvement Master Plan for 2017 and the product of a ‘systematic program to maintain critical infrastructure,’ is being funded by the county along with contributions of $230,000 from both South Plainfield and Edison.  

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In addition to a long-awaited traffic signal at the intersection of Oak Tree and Woodland, the project also calls for the widening, milling and paving of Oak Tree Road; improved drainage; installation of new, ADA compliant curbs and sidewalks; and upgrading of signals at Park Avenue and Oak Tree Road as well as at Oak Tree Road and the entrance to Oak Park Commons. Additionally, all signals will be coordinated to improve traffic flow and make the roads and intersections safer.

“I am certain that, when complete, this project will enhance the safety and ease the rides of all who pass through here…” said Freeholder Director Ronald Rios. “I thank my freeholder colleagues, our county staff, and our municipal partners in Edison and South Plainfield for getting us to this day.”

Freeholder Deputy Director Charles Tomaro, a former member of the Edison Township Council, added, “I am happy to be here today in my hometown at the start of a project that will certainly ease congestion through the area and, more importantly, make the roadway safer for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians…”

“I would like to thank the mayors and councils of South Plainfield and Edison, along with the county, for coming together…to make this actually happen,” said Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak (D-18th), who prior to being elected to the state seat also served as on the Edison Council.

“I do not live far here and I use Woodland Avenue every single day and I see the traffic in the morning, lunchtime, and at night. It is so dangerous; I have seen so many accidents that I’ve lost count,” Karabinchak added “This light will increase safety and reduce traffic and congestion. The difference is going to be phenomenal.”

Anesh, a lifelong resident of the South Plainfield, agreed. “Growing up and living here I know how dangerous this intersection is and have seen the near misses. Most of us pass Woodland and take Park because it is the safe route,” said the mayor. “This [project] will more than make the intersection of Woodland and Oak Tree safer; hopefully it will also alleviate some of the congestion on Park Avenue as well.”

The traffic signal will also make exiting and entering Toranco Oak Tree Plaza – home to tenants such as Chase Bank and the Little Treasurers Learning Center as well as property owners The Torsiello Organization – safer.

“My father Anthony has been building in Edison since 1973 [and] it has always been his vision to have a traffic light at this intersection to enhance the safety of our tenants and visitors entering and exiting the complex. Today that vision becomes a reality,” said the company’s co-owner Michael Torsiello.

Edison Township Councilman Leonard Sendelsky, speaking on behalf of Mayor Tom Lanky and his fellow councilmembers, added, “I am very proud to be here today and part of this wonderful project. When you work together as a team, this is what you can get done. It is all about the safety of the residents of Edison, South Plainfield and Middlesex County. I look forward to the completion of this great project.”

Robert Diehl, a principal at South Plainfield’s Roosevelt Elementary School and member of the Edison Township Council for 16 years, told TAPinto South Plainfield that he is ‘very happy to see the work begin on this much needed traffic improvement.’

“This has been an area of concern and discussion for almost 20 years; several ideas on how to make this intersection safer have been brought forward during that time. As the surrounding area became more developed, the call for some kind of remedy increased...the installation of a traffic light [will] create a safer way for vehicles to enter and exit Woodland Avenue from Oak Tree Road,” said Diehl, adding that while residents and drivers may not favor the installation of another traffic light on a road that already has several, this particular case, ‘safety first makes most sense.’

Senator Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., who was unable to attend the event due to a previous commitment, added, “As someone who was born and raised in South Plainfield I know this has been talked about for decades. The traffic signal will improve traffic flow but most importantly safety for both drivers and pedestrians.”

Middlesex County Department of Public Works Director Gary Vesce, a member of the South Plainfield Council and chair of its DPW committee, said, “This is a great solution; it is going to improve the functionality of this intersection tremendously. It is going to help all residents and those who travel through the towns. The intersection is a nightmare and I am all for it.”

“Safety is the most important thing and it will help the traffic flow at the same time,” added South Plainfield Councilwoman Christine Faustini, who along with fellow members Vesce, Jon Dean, Joe Wolak, and Council President Derryck White attended Wednesday’s ground breaking.

“Today's groundbreaking signifies the beginning of the long-awaited and much-needed project to install a light at the intersection of Woodland Avenue and Oak Tree Road. This light will dramatically minimize the potential for accidents at this intersection,” said White, adding, “Furthermore, the project demonstrates that multiple levels of government can work together and put the common good of the residents first.”

Diegnan agrees. “This is an example of what can be accomplished when government works together…Kudos to South Plainfield and Edison elected officials and in particular thank you to Freeholder Director Rios and the freeholder board for providing the necessary funds to make this happen.”

Torsiello added, “My father always said when the public and provide sectors put their heads together for the same goal and agree to pay their fair share of the cost, any venture can be completed for the good of the people and for the best interest of the public. We are really looking forward to this and so are our tenants.”

Work specific to the Oak Tree Road and Woodland Avenue project is slated to begin in early August with the goal of completion in six to seven month, weather permitting. 

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