By JACQUELINE DURETT
SAYREVILLE — Residents of Hilltop and Lee avenues made their frustrations known at a dedicated public meeting on the topic.
Councilmen Steven Grillo and Pat Lembo held the public meeting at Borough Hall on Dec. 13 with the aim of finding solutions to the traffic problems caused by the streets’ positioning between and connecting from Washington Road and Route 9 south.
Both streets are residential, and there are about 40 homes across the two streets.
The two councilmen planned the meeting, Grillo said, at the request of Mayor Kennedy O’Brien, after a resident complained about the issue at a Borough Council meeting.
Grillo handed out a presentation that covered the current state, potential solutions and his own recommendation for addressing the issue. He discussed prohibiting turning onto Route 9 from Lee Avenue during rush hours, converting the streets in question to one-way streets or placing a barricade that prohibits drivers from accessing Route 9. Grillo’s recommendation is a barrier at Lee Avenue and Route 9.
Residents, many of whom said they had lived on their respective street for decades, collectively said they did not want their street to become a one-way street. More of them were in favor of a barricade at the end of Lee Avenue where it meets Route 9. Speed bumps and humps were also discussed, and Grillo said he would discuss with the police whether they were feasible.
About half of the about three dozen residents in attendance agreed with the barrier recommendation, although one resident expressed a concern about whether a barrier would prevent school buses from being able to pick up children on their streets.
Grillo said he would have to look into that, but conceded that no solution would be perfect.
“You guys are not going to find one magic bullet. You’re in a bad spot,” he said.
Also at the meeting, residents mentioned related issues, such as traffic, speeding, not stopping at stop signs, trucks illegally using the street, even road rage — and what they felt was a lack of enforcement around all of those issues.
Lembo assured residents that police would do targeted enforcement on their streets, but Grillo cautioned that the borough is large, and residents should not expect a dedicated around-the-clock effort. Grillo also added that enforcement would not be or replace a permanent solution.
However, one resident said the issue was not something that any of the suggestions could address and said the issue was poor city planning.
“Too many people live around here — case closed!” Ken Hakler said.
Grillo said he felt the first step was addressing the signage, which he and residents agreed was unclear regarding prohibiting truck traffic on the streets. He also said he would research when the last traffic study was done and would see if it is appropriate to conduct a new one. A new study would take about three months, he said.
“We have to look at the actual road data,” he said.
He said he anticipated bringing the recommendation of a new traffic study to the Borough Council for the Dec. 19 meeting.
Grillo said he and Lembo also would plan for a follow-up meeting with residents.
After the meeting, residents said they were happy that borough officials were taking their concerns seriously. Even Hakler said he was impressed with the content of the meeting and the intent to take action.
“It was very good,” he said. “I was quite impressed.”
“I’m kind of glad in a way that they’re finally doing something,” resident Helen McNulty added.