By MARK ROSMAN
ALLENTOWN – Mayor Greg Westfall has asked the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) to conduct a traffic study in Allentown as borough residents and business owners continue to deal with a steady stream of traffic that traverses the community every day.
In a Sept. 7 letter to NJTPA Executive Director Mary K. Murphy, Westfall detailed the issues that non-terminating (i.e., pass through) traffic is having on the daily lives of residents.
Westfall wrote that Allentown “is at the convergence of three major county routes – 524, 526 and 539. Main Street in Allentown lies on the York Road, a narrow colonial era road traversing the waist of New Jersey laid out in 1683 by Gov. Gawen Laurie. … Allentown was identified by Preservation New Jersey as one of the 10 ‘most endangered historic sites in New Jersey’ in 2001 due to ‘increasing traffic and zoning for ratables in one municipality when a regional perspective is called for.’ ”
The mayor went on to say that “Allentown is one of a few communities in Monmouth County where county roads bisect the community in two directions: north-south by Route 539 and east-west by Route 524 and Route 526. …
Turning radii are such at the failing intersections in the borough that large trucks end up running over corner curbs.
“A recently completed streetscape project costing over $800,000 has seen nearly $10,000 worth of damages to its features (bollards, planters and street signs) by four large truck incidents over the last couple of months. In three of these cases the truck company and the driver were not identified as the incident took place during the early morning hours. The bulk of the replacement costs for these features are not covered by borough insurance.
“Smoke detectors go off on occasion and foundations crack in the homes due to traffic weight and volume along all county routes. Multiple incidents of cars running into homes and severely damaging them have occurred over time. Road noise forces many residents to move their bedrooms from the front to the rear of their homes. Property ownership turnover in the historic district along county roads has become chronic,” Westfall wrote.
Westfall informed Murphy that Allentown is a designated national and state historic district. The historic district is comprised of 221 sites, a mill and millpond (a federal wildlife preserve) and numerous creeks.
He wrote that “the purpose of the traffic study would be to assure the long-term preservation of the Allentown state and national historic district’s character and keep it as a viable, safe place to live as well as to do business. In order to achieve this result, the study should include accurate current traffic counts at peak times and seasons, determine current traffic origins and destinations, and comprehensively project mid-term and long-term traffic counts.
“The result of the study should be a long-term, suggested, phased action plan including both direct traffic improvements, regional land use changes needed to protect against future traffic-intense development, and strategies to redirect non-terminating traffic as much as possible away from western Monmouth County,” Westfall wrote.
“… Past traffic planning and mitigation efforts have never addressed Allentown’s core traffic problems – namely truck traffic and the overwhelming, constantly growing, unsustainable volume of non-terminating vehicles (of all types) traffic (the corridor effect),” the mayor added.