NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — Traffic and pedestrian safety will be significantly enhanced at the entrance to the West Essex Regional High School and Middle School campus in North Caldwell thanks to the newly installed traffic signals at the intersection of West Greenbrook Road and Jay L. Hand Drive.
In the works for nearly five years, the $298,8000 project was a successful collaboration between the county and the Borough of North Caldwell. North Caldwell Mayor Joseph Alessi, members of the borough council, West Essex Regional Superintendent of Schools Barbara Longo and various county officials joined Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. on Monday morning for a celebratory ribbon cutting at the intersection.
“We have a traffic-safety problem with the exit at Jay L. Hand Drive out of West Essex High School because the busses coming in in the morning block the visibility of other traffic,” said North Caldwell Councilman John Chiaia, who was the first to recommend this project as a necessity. “The county was kind enough to agree to it and is funding two-thirds of the cost of the traffic signal, which made it an economic possibility for the town. We’re very pleased because it’s going to save lives.”
Longo said that because West Essex High School students come from North Caldwell, Fairfield, Roseland and Essex Fells, there are many students driving on campus as well as parents dropping off their teens. Stating that this new traffic signal will help tremendously with both traffic and safety, Longo thanked the county and the town on behalf of the entire district.
On behalf of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Freeholder Leonard Luciano said public safety and traffic safety was of the utmost importance in voting this project through.
“We’re very conscientious for the tax payers and a traffic signal of this magnitude is not cheap,” he said. “But we were able to partner with the town of North Caldwell and put this light in here because we need to protect those young 17-and 18-year-old drivers.”
Improvements to the intersection include the installation of poles, traffic signals equipped with LED lights, pedestrian signals with countdown timers, push buttons for activation, high-visibility roadway striping and signage. GPS clocks were also installed to ensure that traffic-signal coordination is maintained.
The project came together because the township and county have a shared commitment of enhancing the safety of local students. In a cost-sharing agreement, the county paid two-thirds of the costs and North Caldwell paid the remainder. Alessi thanked DiVincenzo for always “putting Essex County first.”
“We are always ready to improve our roadways to enhance safety, especially in areas around our public schools,” said DiVincenzo. “The completion of this project is an example of what can be accomplished to benefit our residents and work together.”
According West Orange’s Klein Traffic Consulting, which designed the intersection, the new traffic signal was designed according to the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and local standards. The timing of the signal is based on a study that was conducted at the intersection.
Once it was designed, the borough went out to bid and ultimately awarded J. C. Contracting of Rahway with a publicly bid contract to perform the construction. The Essex County Department of Public Works monitored the project throughout.
The lights were officially switched on at the conclusion of Monday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.