Oct. 22, 2015 — Momentum is building to lower the speed limit along the length of Grove Avenue in Metuchen from 35 m.p.h. to 25 m.p.h. to enhance pedestrian safety.
But, as has been pointed out at numerous public hearings by residents and officials, pedestrian safety takes more than just lowering speed. There are other fixes needed, like providing sidewalks and flashing lights at crosswalks.
Metuchen is trying to do its part. The borough is applying for a $299,920 state Department of Transportation grant to add a roughly 8-foot-wide bike lane on the 1.05-mile section of Grove Avenue that runs through Metuchen. Council approved the application at the council meeting Monday. The estimated cost of the project is the same amount as the grant, according to Borough Administrator Jennifer Maier.
The bike lane would be on the right side of the road for vehicles traveling from Woodbridge Avenue toward Middlesex Avenue and Metuchen High School.
“I think the DOT is becoming more aware of the need for multi-modal transportation,” Maier said in an interview after the council meeting.
Currently, Grove Avenue has signs asking vehicles and bikes to share the road, though that signage does not have much impact, Maier said.
“People don’t notice the signs, you have little kids … who don’t always stay right up against the curb or they shoot across the street,” Maier said.
Grove Avenue has been the focus of much community activism because of its heavy pedestrian use. Residents came out in support of lowering the speed limit all along Grove Avenue in Metuchen at a public hearing earlier this month. The Traffic and Transportation Committee will consider the matter at its next meeting in November. The issue would then have to go before the full borough council, which could happen in December.
A petition signed by at least 198 residents requested pedestrian crossing lights at the intersection of Mason and Grove avenues. Crossing guards work the intersection during school hours, but the intersection is “dangerous” on off-school hours, according to Sharon Jelleme, of Aldrich Avenue, who spoke at the borough council meeting October 5.
“It would help children cross, runners, everyone in town get across there. It’s extremely dangerous,” Jelleme said.
There is no money current in the budget for the project, which would cost at least $25,000 not including engineering costs, Maier said at the meeting. There also are no grants applications for the project at this time. The project would have to be considered for next year, she said. Jelleme’s petition was given to borough council and will be forwarded to the Traffic and Transportation Committee for further discussion.
The borough won approval of federal grant money for four lighted crosswalks, including at Christol Street and Grove Avenue, Mayor Thomas Valhalla said at the Oct. 5 meeting.
The bike lane grant was one of several the borough submitted this month to the state Department of Transportation for various projects, including streetscape improvements on Main Street and road repairs to Norris Avenue and Mason Drive.