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RED BANK: WALGREEN’S AIRS TRAFFIC PITCH

walgreens-121613-500x375-9482926Walgreen’s developer Marc Steinberg talks about the proposed store’s traffic flow with nearby resident Mary Todt during a break in Monday night’s planning board hearing. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Traffic would be a lot worse if a convenience store were built at the former Rassas Buick site in Red Bank instead of the Walgreen’s that’s proposed, a consultant for the pharmacy chain says.

Both are permitted uses at the former car dealership property on Broad Street, traffic engineer John Harter testified at the borough planning board Monday night.

Still, nearby residents pressed Harter on how the store could do anything but worsen traffic flow through an junction that the state Department of Transportation has given a failing grade for motorist delays.

At the latest in a series of hearings on the proposed 14,200-square-foot store, Harter testified for some two hours about traffic studies, traffic-signal “phasing,” changes to a driveway opening on Broad Street, and a proposal to add a right-turn lane from Garfield Place onto northbound Broad Street, among other details.

One issue that appeared to catch extra attention from board members concerned tractor trailers, which a Walgreen’s employee had previously testified would probably make two visits per week to the store, always arriving at the store’s main entrance via southbound Broad Street.

Asked if northbound tractor trailers would be able to enter the site without swinging wide into the left lane, Harter replied that the driver would have to head north on Maple Avenue and cross Bergen Place to get to southbound Broad. That prompted several board members to note that weight restrictions on Bergen and other cross streets might force the truck as far north as Monmouth Street.

“We’ll have to follow the streets that don’t have a weight limit,” said Walgreen’s attorney Marty McGann. “You’re talking about two movements a weeks.”

Residents of the quiet, leafy neighborhood just east of the site sought assurances that measures would be adopted to prevent to keep store customers from taking shortcuts to and from the store past their homes. But Harter responded at one point that “it really, truly is” a good thing if motorists traveling west on Pinckney Road cut through the residential back streets, because it would mean fewer cars trying to make a left turn at the already congested intersection of Pinckney and Broad.

At least one more hearing is expected, on January 22, before the board votes on the proposal.

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