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Students lobby Lawrence council members for intersection improvements

Crossing the street at Route 206/Lawrence Road and Eggerts Crossing Road in Lawrence Township can be risky, but several Lawrence Intermediate School students have come up with solutions to make it safer.

The fourth-graders, some of whom cross the intersection to get to their school on Eggerts Crossing Road, would like the speed limit on Route 206 to be reduced from 35 mph to 25 mph and they would like to have a lighted pedestrian “Walk/Don’t Walk” signal installed at the Route 206 and Eggerts Crossing Road intersection.

And although the intermediate school is down the street from the intersection, the students would like the crosswalk at the driveway entrance to the school to be repainted.

Those suggestions, which were presented to the Township Council at its May 15 meeting, grew out of a study of the Route 206 and Eggerts Crossing Road intersection that was conducted by students enrolled in the school’s program for gifted and talented youngsters.

Accompanied by representatives from the Greater Mercer Transportation Management Authority, the students spent two days in October studying conditions at the intersection.

The students walked from the school to the intersection to take measurements. They measured the length and width of the crosswalks at Route 206 and Eggerts Crossing Road, as well as the timing of the red and green traffic signals.

Based on their study, the students said, there is not enough time to cross the street. The white pedestrian signal would tell people when it is safe to walk across the intersection.

The students told council members the intersection is heavily used by themselves and their schoolmates, and by Rider University students who are on the college’s track team. The track team members run from the campus to the intermediate school and back to campus.

“Those runners need a safe road, in addition to all of the Lawrence Intermediate School walkers and the car traffic in and out of Lawrence Intermediate School on a daily basis,” one of the fourth-graders told the council.

While the students were conducting their pedestrian safety audit, a large truck turned onto Eggerts Crossing Road and nearly struck them, the students told council members. They said they had to jump out of the way and onto the grass because the truck had to go onto the sidewalk to make the turn.

The students also researched traffic fatalities and discovered that 26 percent of New Jersey’s traffic fatalities occurred at intersections – that is 131 fatalities out of 500 reported fatalities from 2014 to June 30, 2017.

They also learned that in the first six months of 2016, 71 pedestrians were involved in fatal traffic accidents. During the first six months of 2017, there were 68 pedestrians involved in fatal accidents.

After the students completed their presentation, Councilman David Maffei asked them if reducing the speed limit on Route 206 would help. They answered with a resounding “yes.”

Councilman Michael Powers told the children the speed limit on Route 206 had already been reduced from 40 mph to 35 mph. Route 206 is controlled by the state Department of Transportation (DOT).

The DOT agreed to reduce the speed limit in 2011 at the council’s request, between Brearley and Skillman avenues. The request to lower the speed limit was made after two school crossing guards were struck by vehicles at the intersection of Route 206 and Eggerts Crossing Road in 2010 and 2013.

Mayor Christopher Bobbitt thanked the students for their presentation.

“Thank you for your recommendations. I can talk to the people at the state. There are no promises, but I can ask them” about lowering the speed limit, Bobbitt said.

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