Linden hopes traffic study will answer safety questions

Eight serious accidents in less than three years raises alarm

LINDEN – There have been too many accidents at the intersection of North Wood Avenue and Elizabeth Avenue, and some of them have been fatal. Now the city is hoping a traffic study and improvements will change the situation.

A little more than a year ago when the elderly owners of a local shoe repair shop were crossing the intersection of North Wood and East Elizabeth avenues, a sports utility vehicle driven by an Edison man on a cell phone crashed into them. The husband, who suffered a head injury, later died.

Less than a month later, a Linden man was struck by a hit-and-run driver on a rainy night and later died from his injuries.
Traffic at the intersection of North Wood and Elizabeth avenues has always been an issue, but especially in recent years.

Vehicles traveling to and from Route 1 result in dangerous merging and a dangerous obstacle course for pedestrians trying to cross in between. Large tractor trailer trucks add another dangerous element for pedestrians that cannot be discounted.

Councilman Peter Brown has voiced considerable concern about this traffic problem and he is finally getting the traffic study he has wanted, thanks to the county stepping in to help.

The Union County Freeholder Board awarded $40,600 to conduct a traffic study of the Wood Avenue corridor from Henry Street to Linden Avenue. The study will encompass obtaining and analyzing traffic and accident statistics as well as design solutions to improve traffic circulation. The goal is to improve pedestrian safety at primary intersections.

Mayor Rich Gerbounka said he supported the traffic study funded by the county because there have been eight serious vehicle-pedestrian accidents in the Wood Avenue corridor in less than three years.

“This is a serious problem,” the mayor said, adding that he appreciated the county’s help in bringing traffic relief to the city.

The mayor said countdown timers were bought for intersections to help alleviate problems and PSE&G is supposed to install additional lighting. Brown, though, is concerned that the city’s plan to expand the transit village around the train station could cause safety issues for pedestrians. Not to mention the addition of more housing and parking, which he felt could cause vehicle congestion to worsen.

Union County Engineer Thomas Mineo indicated the study will include weekday and weekend traffic counts on Wood Avenue at the intersections of Henry, Elm, Blancke, Knopf, and Price streets, while additional studies will take place on Elizabeth and Linden avenues.

There will be a complete inventory of roadway widths, lane configuration, parking and regulations, including type and condition of traffic signs and the timing and synchronization of signals.

County officials expect the traffic study to be underway by the end of the year and the results available in early 2014.