During its Wednesday, April 11, 2018, meeting at the Hall of Records, the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders in a unanimous vote approved a Resolution consenting to the reduction of the speed limit for the entire length of Grove Street in Montclair. This Resolution coincides with Montclair’s recently adopted Ordinance passed November 13, 2017, reducing the speed limit from 35 mph to 30 mph as recommended by a speed study report.
Grove Street, known as County Route 623, is an urban minor arterial roadway under Essex County jurisdiction. The corridor is primarily residential and is characterized by mixed residential, retail, restaurant, and school uses. The recommendation to reduce the speed limit comes from a speed limit reduction evaluation conducted by the Sam Schwartz Consulting firm of Jersey City, New Jersey. The 2016 evaluation, determined the proposed reduction to 30 mph would “improve the safety of the pedestrians and the vehicular traffic along Grove Street”. As a main thoroughfare in Montclair, Grove Street has known many woes of traffic incidents including the recent fatalities of Maya Moar, a 26-year-old au pair from Holon, Israel, who was struck on Grove Street in February; and Montclair State University Adviser and Montclair resident Mary DeFilippis, who was struck in June of last year. Residents have complained the problems are a combination of speeding, poor lighting on the street, and a lack of means to force drivers to stop.
The Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, led by Freeholder President Brendan W. Gill, also a resident of Montclair, have made a priority of addressing issues with regard to transportation and pedestrian safety. In 2013, President Gill sponsored a Resolution Establishing and Adopting an Essex County Complete Streets Policy. The Complete Streets Policy provides a comprehensive multi-modal network of transportation options to provide safe access for all users. The policy ensures all improvements ruminate the recommendations of Complete Streets first and consider connections for Safe Routes to Schools, Safe Routes to Transit, Transit Villages, trail crossings and areas or population groups with limited transportation options.
“It’s imperative that the safety of Essex County motorists and pedestrians remains a top priority,” stated President Gill. “By reducing the speed limit on one of Montclair’s main thoroughfares, we are taking an important step towards increasing public safety while being mindful of the needs of our communities. I’ve been long committed to common sense measures to increase traffic safety and efficiency, and I look forward to continue working with my Freeholder colleagues to ensure the health and safety of Essex County families.”
Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson stated, “I salute President Gill for his leadership. Grove Street will be safer for everyone as a result.”
Additionally, the speed study report cites, research conducted by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) indicating a combination of engineering, enforcement, and education are most effective in reducing vehicle speeds, not just speed reduction alone. The recommendation for traffic calming measures, including: vertical and horizontal deflections, as well as intersection treatments may be of value in reducing vehicle speeds, as well. Consequently, the Board is encouraged to continue to seek opportunities for transportation improvements in the interests of all citizens, pedestrians and motorists alike; and in doing so; hopefully many lives will be potentially spared.