Dec. 23, 2015: Former Metuchen Councilman Rick Dyas believes safety on Grove Avenue goes far beyond simply lowering the speed limit to 25 mph.
Dyas spoke at the Borough Council meeting Monday earning the unique designation of being the lone voice of dissent in a movement with strong public support to lower the speed limit along all of Grove Avenue.
“I don’t believe changing the speed limit is going to change anything,” Dyas said. “You’ll make it unsafe if you slow traffic down in a thing that has a norm of 35 mph.”
Dyas has lived on Grove for almost 25 years and said he hasn’t noticed a speeding problem. The big problems, he said, involve large trucks using the road and emergency vehicles speeding to the emergency room at JFK Medical Center.
Alas, Dyas’ lone voice in the wilderness was not heeded, and Council authorized lowering the speed limit along the 1.05 miles of Grove Avenue that runs through Metuchen to 25 mph.
However, certain points Dyas raised at the meeting were acknowledged by council members as important steps in making Grove Avenue safe for pedestrians.
“The ordinance to lower the speed to 25 mph is really a piece of a solution … there are more than just issues of speed on Grove Avenue and we will explore those and investigate them and if appropriate, take action,” said Council President Ronald Grayzel.
Change will be hard for people, said Councilwoman Allison Inserro, acknowledging Dyas’ anecdote about driving at 25 mph on Grove recently and getting tailgated by angry drivers. Resident Angela Sielski told a similar story about collecting tailgaters while driving 25 mph.
“We’ve already made clear to our police chief and his department that pedestrian safety is our number one concern, so I would expect them to have increased eyes and enforcement on Grove Avenue while this change is taking place,” Inserro said.
Lowering the speed limit on Grove Avenue, which runs through the borough from Woodbridge Avenue to around Mason Drive and the border of Edison, has become a big issue in town, garnering support from volunteers groups and concerned residents.
Supporters came out in force to a meeting at Metuchen High School in October to hear from police, the high school principal and an engineer on why the speed limit should be lowered.
Grove Avenue has the “feel” of a 35 mph road but gets heavy use from bikers and pedestrians, including high school students walking to and from school and student athletes like cross-country runners.
In October, the borough applied for a $300,000 state Department of Transportation grant to add a roughly 8-foot-wide bike lane along the section of Grove Avenue that runs through the borough.