Pleasant Valley Way Civic Association Makes Progress on Corridor Issues

Essex County Dept. Public Works is gathering data for Phase One of the PVW assessment for two weeks.
The meeting was held at the new Education Center in the South Mountain Recreation Complex. Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ - With 108 accidents in less than 11 months, Pleasant Valley Way has become a hot topic of discussion between Essex County, the township, and the newly re-formed Pleasant Valley Way Civic Association. On Nov. 17, a large group of West Orange residents and officials, along with Essex County Engineers, met in the Education Center at South Mountain Recreation Complex to discuss what was currently happening and determine what was next. The meeting was coordinated by Councilman Jerry Guarino.

The general consensus appeared to be that the PVW corridor is in need of some work, particularly near Pleasantdale and West Orange High School. As an Essex County road, however, the changes must be worked out and executed with support from the Essex County Department of Public Works. 

PVW near the I-280 entrances and exits are under the jurisdiction of the State.

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Here's what's happening so far:

Essex County Engineer Asif Mahmud advised that a speed box has been installed northbound near Fortissimo's Restaurant to collect data for two weeks. 

Township Engineer Len Lepore will work with Essex County to repair the beacon light at the corner of Stanford Avenue near Pleasantdale School.

Lepore acknowledged that it had been several years since a study had been done to address the signals and lights along the West Orange PVW corridor and offered that repairs within the current infrastructure would provide some short term solutions while longer-term studies were planned.

Mahmud offered the possibility of lane striping -- painting lines along the shoulders of PVW, possibly near the synagogues.

West Orange Township is looking into Statrack (a fully integrated multi-lane, bi-directional traffic data gathering device) and speed display technologies.

The "wish list" that emerged:

A light at Alisa Drive near West Orange High School: Planning Board member Lee Klein discussed the "eight warrants," eight criteria required to consider the installation of a light. At this point, there have been four accidents in and around Alisa Drive, one short of a warrant. Other warrants include the assessment of traffic and volume during peak hours. 

"We do not want to have an accident happen to see results," said Sangeeta Badlani.

Susan McCartney discussed looking into grant money for projects. Montclair recently completed a Complete Streets Project, a landscaping project that line striping, landscaping, and lighting, to improve safety for not only drivers, but walkers and bikers.

Engineer Mike Dannemiller said, "The rule of thumb, is first, do no harm," he began. "A lot can be done with speed limits and some paint."

In fact, speed limits vary along the PVW corridor from Verona to South Orange, and those speed limits have not been reviewed in several years, agreed Lepore and Mohammed.

Sidewalks, especially near the schools and synagogues, and areas with a lot of pedestrian foot traffic, required assessment for safety. Pedestrian injuries due to uneven sidewalks have been on the rise.

A large roster of officials and residents were in attendance: Township Enigineer Len Lepore; Officer Scott Smarsh, WOPD/Traffic Bureau; Police Chief James Abbott; Laura Lab and Ron Charles, Board of Ed members; Mike Dannemiller, West Orange resident and Complete Streets Engineer; Roz Moscowitz Bielski, President, PVW Civic Association, Councilpersons Jerry Guarino and Susan McCartney; Joe McCartney,Open space Commission; Kathy Smith - Montclair Complete Streets Project/Montclair Pedestrian Safety Committee; Andy Anderson, Essex County Coordinator, Essex County Community Traffic Safety Program; Essex County Engineer Asif Mahmud; Anthony Puglisi, Essex County Publicist; Sangeeta and Sunil Badlani, Nikhil Badlani Foundation; Lee Klein, West Orange Planning Board; and other community members. 

The next meeting of the Pleasant Valley Way Civic Association will be an open house on Dec. 14 from noon to 4 p.m. at 446 Pleasant Valley Way near Dunkin Donuts, with a magic show for kids at 2 p.m. All are welcome.

The Safety Commission is tentatively scheduled for a meeting on Dec. 17, time and place TBA. TAP into West Orange will provide updates as they become available.

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