WEST ORANGE, NJ – On Wednesday night, at the Turtle Back Zoo Education Center, the Pleasant Valley Way Traffic and Safety Commission made additional strides toward establishing a pedestrian safety committee. With over 125 accidents on this two-mile stretch of road  (Route 280 to Woodland Avenue) residents and elected officials are in discussions about making this a safer road.

Town Council President Jerry Guarino, who is in full favor of the idea, plans to present a resolution at the March 10 Town Council meeting to introduce a pedestrian advisory board. The board would consist of nine members – one representing Pleasant Valley Way, another the Downtown West Orange Alliance, National Parks Service, Board of Education, Planning Department, Police Department, the Gregory area of town, the St. Cloud area of town, and one unnamed.

“It’s an advisory board that speaks and reports to the Town Council and to the Mayor to give us input of what needs to be done,” said Guarino.  

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Speed Box Update

Speed boxes, the small boxes often hidden on the side of roads, can have multiple purposes. According to Officer Scott Smarsh of the West Orange Police Department, the units that the Township is currently using are only designed to read the car activity and their speeds in only one lane of traffic. On Nov. 23, in a TAP into West Orange article indicated that one of the boxes is located near Fortissimo Osteria Pizzeria and like the others, it is owned by Essex County.

The police department hopes to order four boxes and four speed signs by the end of March.

Pedestrian Safety Solutions

The Commission discussed several ways to combat the pedestrian safety issue including re-routing larger trucks during before school and after school hours. Pleasant Valley Civic Association President Roz Moskovitz Bielski, felt these vehicles should be eliminated for both safety and environmental reasons.

“If we could even just get them off during school from 7-9 [a.m] and 2-4 [p.m.], that would be a huge help,” said Moskovitz Bielski, who mentioned that these vehicles emit massive toxins, and suggested that they use Prospect Avenue during those hours.

Every day, West Orange has 3,000 children going to school, many of which face the heavy traffic. Currently, the Town’s traffic bureau consists of two officers – including Officer Smarsh. The problem lies in the amount of manpower necessary to create a pedestrian detail, mentioned Smarsh.

Immediate Steps

In terms of safety, especially along Pleasant Valley Way, the Commission agreed that they need to form an action plan, a statement of ideals that highlight their strategy. Charles Brown, senior research specialist at the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, expressed the importance of organization and taking leadership.

“When you’re constantly throwing out ideas without documenting ideas and having a formulized plan, basically, nothing gets done,” said Brown. “I would tell you [the Commission] to try as best as possible to work with the County, but don’t let the County be an impediment. You have enough resources in this room now to move the ball forward.”

The next Pleasant Valley Way Traffic and Safety Commission meeting date is yet to be determined.

Past TAP into West Orange Articles on the Pleasant Valley Way Traffic and Safety Commission