Andover Township Residents Express Concerns Over Proposed Bus Route
Tuesday, September 11, 2012 • 6:49pm
ANDOVER TOWNSHIP, NJ - During the September 10 meeting of the Andover Township Committee, residents voiced concerns about the proposed bus route to be built behind the Florence M. Burd school.
Chief Gil Taglialatela of Andover Township began the discussion by providing a full explanation of the work being proposed.
“I want you to understand that this is not a done deal,” he said.
“This traffic and safety situation has been brought to my attention many times, and it is my obligation as the chief of police to find a solution to the problems brought to me by the residents,” Taglialatela added.
Currently, the buses turn into the school, go around the circle to drop off the students, then wait for a police officer to stop traffic, who then allows them turn left out of the school onto Newton-Sparta Road.
This left-hand turn has caused delays in the school, with buses backing up around the school lots, as well as traffic on the street from the officer stopping vehicles on Newton-Sparta Road during one of the busiest times of the day.
Talialatela explained the safety issue for his officers who step into traffic during heavy traffic, and try to stop the cars for the buses. He also told meeting attendees only one officer is on duty at that time, and if a life-threatening emergency was to arise, the officer would have to leave his position by the school to address the emergency.
Mayor Michael Lensak said, “I went out to evaluate the safety issue this morning, and I saw a near-accident when the officer stepped out because some people are on their phones, drinking their coffee, or just not paying attention.”
The new bus route would build a driveway around the back of the school, allowing buses to exit through Deer Pond Road, turn onto Terrace Avenue, turn onto Park Road, then turn right onto Limecrest Road to bring the middle school students to Long Pond School.
Residents expressed they believe that his bus route would only move the traffic problem from Newton-Sparta Road to Limecrest Road. Many explained that they have trouble pulling out of that street during that time, and the buses would just be lined up down the streets of the neighborhood.
Many residents suggested, and Taglialatela agreed, that a traffic light should be built on Newton-Sparta Road for the school traffic.
“The ideal solution would be a traffic light for the school, but it would cost $250,000,” Taglialatela said.
In 2005, the county planned to install a traffic light with money from a state grant. However, the county did not agree on the necessity of the light, and the town lost the funding for the project.
Residents also suggested a crossing guard be assigned to the school position, instead of the officer, but that does not solve the safety issue.
After further discussion of lowering the speed limit, possibly renting a traffic light, fixing the current flashing light to raise awareness of the zone, Chief Taglialatela suggested petitioning the county to investigate these options.
“Nothing is going to happen now,” Lensak said. “We will evaluate these suggestions and petition the county to fix some of these issues before we do anything with this project.”
At the end of the discussion, Taglialatela reiterated how he suggested this solution after many complaints about the safety and traffic situation on Newton-Sparta Road.
“If the county is able to provide a better solution through building a traffic light for the school, then we won’t have to build this new roadway,” Taglialatela said.