Residents: Maple Ave. Safety Needs to be Addressed
As committee members seemed split, one asks for more detailed costs for project.
The absence of one Montville Township Committee member from Tuesday's meeting may have delayed a resolution to a traffic issue on Maple Avenue, in Pine Brook, that has some residents concerned about the safety of neighborhood children.
The issue has been raised because some residents feel that traffic has reached an unsafe level in the neighborhood, with cars cutting through to get to Interstate 80 at excessive speeds, at times.
The township conducted a traffic study on Margaret Street, Maple Avenue and John Street that showed that cars were traveling at excessive speeds in the area during certain times, however, the Montville Township Police Department felt that the results of the study were disingenuous.
The police conducted their own seven-day traffic study on Margaret Street at the beginning of the month and found that while some cars speed, the maximum speed was much lower than originally projected.
Still, Braden said the goal of the township committee should be to alleviate speeding in the area all together.
"What I'd like to see happen is this corridor, or this neighborhood, be the place in Montville where people say, 'No you don't speed in that area,'" he said.
Braden applauded the police for stepping up patrols in the area and asked that they continue, however, the residents in attendance at Tuesday's meeting still felt a permanent solution was needed.
The township considered constructing a cul-de-sac in the area in two different locations, or, as presented by Township Engineer Anthony Barile Jr., putting temporary barriers and signs in several locations in the area. While Committee Members Scott Gallopo and Deborah Nielson were in favor of a modified version of a cul-de-sac that was originally expected to cost $150,000, Mayor Tim Braden and Committeeman Jim Sandham were in favor of the temporary measure. Committeeman Don Kostka, who would have had the deciding vote, was absent from the meeting.
Gallopo and Nielson agreed that if the non-essential modifications included in the proposed project for a cul-de-sac at the driveway of 34 Maple Avenue were deleted from the project, bringing the projected cost down to about $120,000, they would be in favor of the permanent cul-de-sac in that location. The alternative location includes construction of a cul-de-sac at the driveway of 10 Maple Avenue and would cost about $85,000.
However, Braden and Sandham felt that by first installing the temporary barricades, the township could further explore the blockage's effect on the area's traffic. Barile also said the signage and materials used in the temporary option could be reused for other purposes by the township after they are no longer needed in the area.
"When you fix a problem, you may find that you have another problem, and the last thing I want to do is spend $130,000 or $150,000 on a cul-de-sac and find out we missed something here," Braden said.
The temporary barriers and signs would cost about $5,000 and, according to Braden, would likely be able to be installed within two weeks, whereas the permanent cul-de-sac could take up to six months after bidding procedures.
Barile said he did not have exact cost breakdowns of the additional costs for the more expensive project with him at Tuesday's meeting, but said the costs include some driveway work in two areas. Gallopo asked that the committee be provided a complete breakdown of the difference in costs between the two cul-de-sac projects by the May 8 meeting.
Herb Eggers, a resident who has been opposed to a cul-de-sac in the area but worked with Barile to develop the option for the cul-de-sac in the second location at 34 Maple Avenue, agreed with the residents he has often disagreed with regarding the issue and said he would not like to see temporary barriers installed.
"I don't see any reason to put barriers at all, I don't see how that would serve any purpose whatsoever," he said. "I would like to see the township spend the money and do the job properly."
Resident Keith Olsen said he feared that the temporary solution would become the township's permanent way of dealing with the issue and create an eyesore for the community.
"I know that something that's put in temporarily can become permanent very easily," he said.
Some residents were frustrated that the committee did not decide one way or the other, postponing further discussion and a vote on the topic until the May 8 meeting. Resident Sylvia Walits said she is concerned about neighborhood children and their safety and she is fearful that someone will get hurt before the committee acts on the issue.
"I don't want to see a dead child in the street," she said.
Resident Chris Burke echoed Walits' sentiments.
"It's only a matter of time, somebody's going to get hurt down there," he said. "You can't put a pricetag on a child's head."