METUCHEN – Collaborative efforts among county, borough officials and grassroots groups have led the borough to become “almost” 25 miles per hour town-wide.
That is the goal, officials said, as all county and borough roads transitioned to a slower speed limit on Feb. 14. Middlesex County and borough officials held a press conference announcing the efforts at Cai’s Café, Main Street, on Feb. 11.
The Borough Council approved an ordinance to reduce the speed limits on the entire lengths of all county roads Amboy Avenue, Central Ave, Main Street, Middlesex Avenue, New Durham Road, Plainfield Avenue, Plainfield Road and Woodbridge Avenue in November.
The Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders followed approving the measure through a resolution.
In conjunction with lowering the speed limit on all county roads, Metuchen officials have embraced the Slow Down In Our Town initiative. Slow Down In Our Town is a speed reduction campaign in partnership with neighborhood residents and local law enforcement, working together to coordinate placement of Slow Down In Our Town lawn signs in targeted neighborhoods to reduce speeding and increase pedestrian safety by raising awareness.
Also, a sticker about the initiative can be placed on recycling bins to raise more awareness of the change in speed limits.
“Metuchen has long been committed to safety for everyone who uses our streets – pedestrians, bike riders and drivers alike – although there are many components in making safer streets, reducing speed is a way to dramatically increase safety benefits to everyone,” Council President Linda Koskoski said. “Slowing the speed of cars allows the driver of that car to react more quickly to changing conditions on the road and reduces the chance of negative encounters with bikers and pedestrians. Should a negative encounter occur the biker or pedestrian comes away from that encounter with a greater chance to walk away without serious injury.”
Koskoski said while they continue to make other changes to increase safety on borough streets, the lowering of the speed limits to 25 miles per hour has been a major step in the right direction.
“Many towns and cities nationwide are embracing lower speed limits to great advantage,” she said. “Working towards a town-wide 25-mile-per-hour speed limit, we will be setting an example for other towns in Middlesex County as well as for New Jersey in general.”
Mayor Jonathan Busch said the lowering of the speed limits is “a really big deal” for the borough.
“I have had people from other communities speak about the fact how we’ve been able to do this,” he said, noting the efforts wouldn’t have been possible without the committed efforts of borough and county officials and residents. “We have a drive in this town – in general – and in respect to pedestrian safety and to make sure we slow down. We’ve had a significant number of people who have been hit by cars, significant incidents specifically directly related to speed. This is an easily fixable problem if you get permission from powers that be to slow things down.”
It has been a decade in the making, with a bit of persistence from Koskosi over the past two years, as borough officials move forward to reduce traffic speeds on eight county streets to 25 miles per hour.
“We have one more step: Route 27 [a state road] needs to be 25 miles per hour,” Busch said.
Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ron G. Rios said it is all about safety and making the environment safe for residents, children, seniors and even visitors who come to Metuchen.
“I’m glad to be able to make streets safer for our residents, but it’s also important to keep up collaborations and friendships together,” he said.
Freeholder Deputy Director Charles Tomaro and Freeholder Charles Kenny were also present at the press conference.