Clark waiting for state OK on traffic light

CLARK, NJ — The Township Council is waiting for approval from state transportation officials to install a traffic light at the intersection of Westfield Avenue and Wilson Drive, which runs between Arthur L. Johnson High School and Clark Police Headquarters, officials announced during the Aug. 5 workshop meeting.

It also is preparing a grant application to the Department of Transportation to help pay for the signal.
The road, which leads to the main parking lot for the high school, is heavily trafficked in the early morning and mid-afternoon.
The council is waiting for a response from the NJDOT as to when it can install the light, a decision which should be reached between now and November 2020.

The new light will be one of many changes to the area.
The township is planning to build a new police station building behind the current one, demolish the current building and turn that into a parking lot. Construction for the new station will begin by the end of this year.

The grant application for the traffic signal is intended to ward off any additional costs already being shouldered for the new police building, which Mayor Sal Bonocorso said in June had jumped to $8.25 million.

Councilwoman Angel Albanese said the busiest times for traffic is between 7:15 and 8:30 a.m. and between 2:15 and 3:15 p.m., and is related to the high school’s start and dismissal times.

“It’s a busy road,” she said. “And in the peak period when kids are going to school. … It’s really a hazard right now.”
Business administrator John Laezza added that there have not been any accidents in the area, but he attributed that to manpower.
“There have been no accidents because we have a crossing guard there,” he said. “It’s one of the busiest roads out there.”

This statement contrasted with that of Edith Merkel, the township clerk, who said at the meeting that there had been some accidents. The project will, in part, create a straighter, more drivable intersection at Wilson Drive and Westfield Avenue, she said.
Wilson and Westfield avenues intersect almost directly across from Emerald Place, which is a few feet to the north on the opposite side.

“The plan is to straighten out the intersection before the traffic light goes in, so it will be a true, straight intersection,” Merkel said. “Where Wilson Drive comes out, the BOE is allowing us to take a small portion of that property for that intersection.”

Waterson Drive, which has its entry parallel to Wilson Drive on the other side of the Clark Police Station, also will be reconfigured, Laezza said.

“We were configuring the road on Waterson Drive. … We would be building the new police station in the back of the current police station,” he said. “Basically, we have the school crossing guard because the high school is there. The construction crew would work during school hours. New Jersey DOT has set money aside for these municipalities. The grant is for about $225,000. The cost of construction would be about $5,000 to 7,000.”