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Allentown mayor: School district committee will examine traffic issues

ALLENTOWN – Mayor Thomas Fritts has been appointed to a committee examining traffic concerns in Allentown that are related to the Upper Freehold Regional School District’s campus on High Street.

Fritts made the announcement of his appointment during the Feb. 22 meeting of the Allentown mayor and Borough Council.

Traffic issues have led to a proposal from Monmouth County officials to construct a traffic signal at the corner of South Main and High streets.

Some residents of those two streets have expressed concerns about the county’s plan since learning about the proposal.

South Main Street and High Street are both county roads and the intersection is under the county’s jurisdiction.

Allentown officials have said that at certain times of the day, significant traffic backups occur at the intersection.

The backups are partially attributed to the fact that the UFRSD campus that houses Allentown High School and the Newell Elementary School is on High Street, not far from the intersection, and to trucks that pass through the borough each day on their way to and from warehouses in communities that border Allentown.

Officials have acknowledged that at other times of the day there is not a traffic backup at the intersection and that a traffic signal could cause motorists to have to wait for a green light when that is not the case at present with an unsignalized intersection.

“The school district recognizes (the traffic situation) is their issue,” Fritts said. “They will be doing a traffic study at their schools.”

The mayor said school district administrators may be able to make immediate adjustments to address the situation at the High Street campus.

Regarding residents who have expressed concern about the possible construction of a traffic light at South Main and High streets, Fritts said, “We heard the residents. We understand their concerns. If we end up without a traffic light and resolve the school traffic issue, I would consider that a home run.”

The only official action taken thus far by Allentown officials was a 5-1 vote by council members on Dec. 7 to support a county plan to construct a traffic signal at the intersection.

County officials have said the intersection meets multiple criteria (technically referred to as warrants) that would permit the installation of a traffic signal. Pedestrian signals at the intersection would facilitate the safety of children walking to and from the high school-elementary school campus.

At present, there is a stop sign on High Street. Motorists on High Street who wish to turn left or right onto South Main Street must wait for a break in traffic to complete a turn. The motorists waiting to turn can lead to a backup of vehicles on High Street.

Motorists on South Main Street who wish to turn left onto High Street must wait for a break in oncoming traffic to complete the turn, which can lead to a backup of vehicles behind the vehicle that is waiting to turn.

During a recent Borough Council meeting at which the proposed traffic light was being discussed, Upper Freehold Regional School District Superintendent of Schools Mark Guterl said, “The school district is a partner with the town. We recognize we are part of the problem” and want to work with the borough to address the issues.

In the past week, Guterl did not respond to emails from the Examiner seeking additional information about the committee the school district has formed to examine the traffic issues and possible solutions at the High Street campus.

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