METUCHEN – It has been a decade in the making, with a bit of persistence from Metuchen Borough Council President Linda Koskosi over the past two years, as borough officials move forward to reduce traffic speeds on eight county streets to 25 miles per hour.
The second reading and public hearing on amending an ordinance to reduce the speed limits on the entire lengths of Amboy Avenue, Central Ave, Main Street, Middlesex Avenue, New Durham Road, Plainfield Avenue, Plainfield Road and Woodbridge Avenue is expected to be held at a Borough Council meeting on Nov. 12.
The council moved to introduce the amended ordinance at a meeting on Oct. 29. Mayor Jonathan Busch called the move a “huge” undertaking with the efforts of a number of people.
“We had no authority to make these changes until now,” he said.
Koskoski said working in the parameters of the federal manual for traffic control devices has made the goal of pushing for all roadways in the borough to be 25 miles per hour an uphill battle.
The council president said it was a team effort with fellow council members – including fellow Councilman Jason Delia, whom she referred to as “Captain Crunch” for helping her “crunch data” – as well as Borough Administrator Jay Muldoon.
“We recently were able to identify things in [the manual] that allowed us to move [the amendments to the ordinance] forward and the county partnered with us on that,” she said, adding that once the ordinance is passed by borough officials, it will go to the county for final approval. “This is a huge step in what I think is the foundation to create safe streets. I think a few of the studies [that the borough conducted] showed reducing speed [limits] enhances safety.”
Over the years, the borough has participated in traffic studies including a Circulation Plan in 2009, Complete Streets Policy in 2013, Downtown Parking in 2014, Middlesex Greenway Access Plan and Health Impact Assessment in 2014, Accessibility Evaluation in 2015, a School Travel Plan in 2016, and a Complete Streets Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan in 2016.
Koskoski said the reduction of speed limits is an important piece of the puzzle as the borough strives to make the borough a more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly place, with the implementation of additional traffic calming measures including daylighting (removing parking spaces) at crosswalks and bike lanes on Grove Avenue.
“So many streets in our town are county roads so this brings us so close to our goal of a town-wide goal of 25 miles per hour speed limit,” she said.
Busch said once the borough receives county approval on the streets in the amended ordinance, they will take on the next hurdle of state roads in the borough.
In addition, borough officials have added another police officer, which allows the department to have two traffic safety officers; implemented sharrows – line markings in the middle of motor vehicle lanes that indicate the road needs to be shared by vehicles and bicyclists – on Amboy Avenue, Route 27 and soon Woodbridge Avenue (all county roads); implemented four-way stop signs at various intersections, implemented orange flags at various crosswalks; and reduced the speed limit on Grove Avenue, a borough road, from 35 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour.
In addition, after waiting five years, lighted crosswalks will soon illuminate five intersections in Metuchen. The lighted crosswalks will be implemented at the intersections of Main Street and Brunswick Avenue, Main Street and Lincoln Avenue, Route 27 and Oak Avenue, Central and Middlesex avenues, and Christol Street and Grove Avenue.
And at the meeting on Oct. 29, the council approved the implementation of stop signs at all the intersections of Highland Avenue and Huxley Road.