Allentown mayor names members of ad hoc traffic committee

ALLENTOWN – During the final meeting of the mayor and Borough Council in 2020, Mayor Thomas Fritts reiterated a promise he had made to residents at various times during the year.

Once again, Fritts said 2021 will be “the year of traffic” in Allentown as municipal officials continue to pursue solutions to a problem that has vexed residents for years – the steady flow of truck traffic on the borough’s streets all day, every day.

During the Dec. 15 meeting that was held in a virtual manner during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Fritts announced that the new year would see the formation of an internal ad hoc traffic and parking committee.

Fritts said first-term Councilwoman Erica Torsiello, 2021 council President John A. Elder III and he would serve on the panel.

“We are pushing forward” on these issues, the mayor said. “Judge us at the end of 2021. We are going to do everything we can to resolve our traffic and parking issues.”

Several years ago, municipal officials adopted an ordinance that bans trucks from certain streets in the borough.

In 2020, officials acknowledged that the ordinance cannot be enforced until an engineering study has been completed and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) signs off on the ordinance.

“Our engineer has performed the study and we are awaiting approval from the DOT. We are hopeful of receiving DOT approval,” Fritts said during the year’s final meeting. “We are also working to get our speed zone enforcement (ordinance) working.”

Fritts said Thomas A. Arnone, who serves on the Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners (formerly the Board of Freeholders) has been invited to visit Allentown to see the traffic issues firsthand.

County officials have previously said some of the traffic issues are related to ongoing road construction projects near Allentown, but resident Patricia Brown, speaking during the public comment portion of the meeting, said the truck issues “are not only related to the current road construction in the vicinity of Allentown. These problems have been going on for years.”

Brown said Allentown officials and residents were told in the past that two bypasses would be constructed in an attempt to alleviate the borough’s traffic issues.

“We got one bypass built, but we are hanging on the (construction) of the second bypass,” she said.

Tim Larsen asked Fritts how residents can provide input on Allentown’s traffic issues.

Fritts told Larsen that residents may email him, Borough Council members or the municipal clerk with any ideas or thoughts they may have related to traffic.