2006-02-08 / Front Page

Panter: Pedestrian safety deserves close look

Karcher: DOT has approved traffic light at Cambridge Square

Staff Writer

Pedestrian safety is becoming a hot button issue in western Monmouth County following several recent accidents in which pedestrians were struck by vehicles in the area of local commuter parking lots.

In one incident, a Manalapan husband and wife who were crossing Route 9 in Manalapan between two intersections were struck and killed.

In another incident, a Marlboro man was struck by a bus in a drop-off area on Union Hill Road, Marlboro, near the Exclusive Plaza shopping center.

Another location that poses a daily challenge to commuters is the Regal Cinema park-and-ride bus stop in Marlboro near the township’s border with Old Bridge at Route 9 and Texas Road.

State Assemblyman Michael J. Panter (D-Monmouth and Mercer) issued a press release last week stating his intention to provide residents with better pedestrian safety measures near that location.

“Commuters using mass transportation options should be rewarded for their efforts, not subject to unsafe conditions,” Panter said. “Beginning with the Regal Cinema park-and-ride, I would like to see major improvements take place at all commuter stops in the 12th District.”

According to the assemblyman’s press release, there are no sidewalks on the southbound side of Route 9 where passengers returning from New York get off their bus.

In order to reach the commuter lot at Regal Cinema where they parked in the morning, the commuters walk on the shoulder of Route 9 south, which puts them in danger of being struck by vehicles. Then they must cross the southbound lanes of traffic and walk across a grassy, muddy median, and then across the northbound lanes of Route 9 traffic to get to the Regal Cinema parking lot.

According to Marlboro police Sgt. Joseph Lenge, there are sidewalks in place from the commuter lot in Marlboro to the Old Bridge border. Lenge said technically everything that needs to be improved at this particular commuter location is in Old Bridge.

Marlboro resident Mark Orenzow said he feels his life is in jeopardy every day that he uses the bus stop.

“The speed limit is 50 mph on Route 9 and the cars are coming right at you. Regardless of the time of year, when the roads are slick and/or snow-covered, it’s treacherous,” Orenzow said in Panter’s press release.

Panter is seeking a meeting with the commissioner of the Department of Transportation (DOT) to address this issue. He said he is working with fellow members of the Assembly Transportation Committee to find a solution to the problem of unsafe commuter stops throughout the state.

The bus stop adjacent to the Exclusive Plaza parking lot on Union Hill Road near Route 9 north, and areas near that bus stop where commuters park, can also lead to unsafe conditions for pedestrians and drivers.

The installation of a traffic signal at the Union Hill Road entrance to the Cambridge Square shopping center was proposed last year when a Home Depot opened in the center in January 2005. The traffic light was expected to be installed by the fall of 2005.

State Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-Monmouth and Mercer) said Marlboro officials submitted their first plan for the traffic light in July 2005 to the DOT. She said the plan did not meet state requirements. The plan was revised twice, once in November and again in December.

Karcher said on Feb. 3 that authorization from the DOT for the new light has been issued and the township can proceed with the installation.

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