WESTFIELD, NJ – A Prospect Street restaurateur used to fear his patrons would be hit while crossing the street just outside his establishment.
Until the town finished its redesign of Prospect Street between North Avenue and Broad Street last week, crossing the thoroughfare was dangerous, Tim Boyle, the owner of 16 Prospect Wine Bar and Bistro, said.
“I was almost hit by somebody,” Boyle said. “It got to the point where we warned people when they were crossing the street to be careful.”
Boyle, who has been at the location since 2011, said he is pleased with the town’s replacement of the street’s parallel parking spaces with angled parking, which added four metered spaces, two of them limited to 15-minute parking.
The revamp also narrows what was in effect a two-lane thoroughfare into one lane of travel. It was never meant to be two lanes anyway, Councilman David Contract said.
“It was an informal two lanes,” Contract said. “There was no striping, which is what created the safety concerns.”
The redesign forces traffic into one lane at the stop sign, ensuring only one car approaches the intersection at the same time, officials said.
Boyle said he has not seen significant traffic backups with the redesign. However, drivers have slowed down, he said.
And that is just what is intended.
The project is in keeping with a policy the Town Council adopted in 2013 to ensure “Roads are built to safely accommodate a variety of transportation modes and users of all ages and abilities.”
At least 147 municipalities and eight county governments in New Jersey have adopted Complete Streets policies. In Union County, the municipalities include Berkeley Heights, Cranford, Elizabeth, Fanwood and New Providence, according to the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition’s website.
Municipal officials said the angled parking is not slated for other parts of town, but more parking will be available downtown when construction of a municipal parking lot is finished.
Pedestrian safety will play a significant role as the town develops its master plan, a guide for development, Mayor Shelley Brindle said Monday.
“Pedestrian safety is going to be a big emphasis going forward,” Brindle said. “It is certainly going to be next year. … Mobility is a big component of the master plan.”
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh