Nov. 15, 2015: Metuchen gained a major ally in its quest to make its streets as safe as possible for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The New Jersey Transportation Planning Association, a federally authorized organization, selected Metuchen for the second phase of its Street Smart New Jersey pedestrian safety campaign, which will start in March, according to NJTPA and Borough Administrator Jennifer Maier.
The campaign uses advertising, grassroots public awareness efforts and law enforcement to enhance pedestrian and bike safety, the Association said in a recent public statement. This is the second phase of the NJTPA Street Smart New Jersey program, which kicked off in 2013 in Newark, Hackettstown, Jersey City and Woodbridge. The program is funded by the Federal Highway Administration.
Prior the start of the campaign, Phase II communities like Metuchen will go through a pedestrian safety evaluation. In Metuchen’s case, the evaluation will focus on pedestrian and bicycle safety and handicapped accessibility along Main Street from Middlesex Avenue to Walnut Street, Maier said at the borough council meeting earlier this month. After the safety campaign, NJTPA performs another safety evaluation to see if drivers, pedestrians and bikers have changed their behavior, the organization said in the statement.
“That stretch [of Main Street] is the most congested, the highest use [and] we can’t change the speed on that county portion of the road,” Maier said in an interview after the meeting. It’s “really to try and improve one of our heaviest trafficked roads.”
NJTPA is known as a Metropolitan Planning Organization, which are meant to oversee federally funded transportation projects and provide a forum for local and state officials to plan a region’s transit future. Middlesex County’s NJTPA representative is County Freeholder Charles Tomaro, according to the NJTPA website.
Pedestrian safety is a priority in Metuchen. Borough Council will deliberate in December on whether to lower the speed limit on all of Grove Avenue from 35 m.p.h. to 25 m.p.h. The idea was moved forward by the Traffic and Transportation Committee earlier this month.
The borough also has applied for a $300,000 grant to build bike lanes along the length of Grove Avenue that runs through Metuchen.
Meanwhile, incoming Mayor Pete Cammarano made pedestrian safety one of his priorities. “We have a large number of young families that walk and bike around town and we need to ensure their safety. We also need to explore opportunities to expand foot and pedal power initiatives, including bike lanes and safer crosswalks and safer routes to schools for children,” he told BBB.
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