A new study by Together North Jersey, a planning initiative currently underway in the 13-county North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority region of New Jersey, is looking at “complete streets” strategies for improving safety and mobility for the Bloomfield Avenue corridor in Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Montclair and Verona.
The Bloomfield Avenue Complete Corridor Plan developed a series of design standards and recommendations for a 4.5 mile long stretch of Bloomfield Avenue in Essex County. By identifying short- and long-term improvements, the townships lay out a plan to make Bloomfield Avenue a more pedestrian-friendly corridor, improving the shopping experience, while also ensuring safer transportation for all users consistent with Essex County’s Complete Streets Policy.
The study identified speeding traffic is one of the biggest concerns along the corridor as it poses major safety threats for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and transit users. Other concerns included inefficient and confusing intersection operations and congestion related to on-street parking and turning vehicles.
“The Bloomfield Avenue corridor is at the heart of our community in Montclair,” said Kim Craft, Montclair Township Engineer. “We are grateful to Together North Jersey for providing us the opportunity to think creatively about ways we can improve the roadway for all users and continue to benefit from an active and exciting downtown experience, not just for Montclair but for all the communities covered by the study.”
Key recommendations from the plan include:
- Calm traffic and improve pedestrian safety. Bloomfield Avenue has very high pedestrian traffic as these communities are all very walkable and have downtown districts and neighborhood parks and schools. In order to improve the safety and experience for these pedestrians the plan recommends upgraded crosswalks and signalization; improved streetscape and street trees to provide shade; additional pedestrian-scaled lighting; improved sidewalk/cross walk access; additional bike parking areas; and traffic calming interventions, such as curb bump-outs, medians, and textured intersections.
- Create a regional bicycle network. The Plan recommends further study and implementation of a regional network of bike lanes connecting downtown areas, transit stations, and regional parks. Other bike recommendations, such as lanes, arrows, and off-street trails, are designed to give cyclists better awareness of bicycle routing and to give drivers better awareness of people using bicycles.
- Improve access to transit. Though the area has extensive transit coverage and connectivity, including bus, rail, and shuttle service, improvements to signalization, road configuration, and parking enforcement can improve access and travel time to key destinations. Some of the key recommendations include: improving bus stops and bus information, enforcing parking regulations at bus stops, and providing pull-offs and marked bus loading areas.
In conjunction with development of the Complete Corridor Plan, the New Jersey Health Impact Collaborative at Rutgers University conducted a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of improvements to the corridor. By considering a range of social, environmental and economic influences on health, the HIA helps identify groups who might be particularly vulnerable or disproportionately impacted by changes to the Bloomfield Avenue Corridor.
The Bloomfield Avenue Complete Corridor Plan is one of 18 Local Demonstration Projects (LDPs) being undertaken by Together North Jersey. Conducted from March 2014 to June 2014, the project brought together county and municipal partners, non-profit partners, business owners, and local residents and youth to explore strategies to improve the Avenue.