By JOHN T. WARD
Attempting to address concerns over traffic safety, an engineer for a hotly debated Dunkin’ coffee shop proposed in Fair Haven has offered an idea he says will safeguard pedestrians.
Another traffic engineer, this one hired by the borough planning board, has also made some suggestions, redbankgreen has learned.
Two weeks after the most recent planning board session on the Dunkin’ proposal held June 18, traffic engineer Robert Freud (pronounced Frood) submitted a concept plan to answer critics who say the store would imperil pedestrians within the River Road strip mall.
The latest plan calls for expanding an existing traffic island in the parking lot to serve as a “pedestrian refuge,” Freud, of Dynamic Engineering Consultants in Lake Como, wrote in a July 3 letter to the board.
The island would connect to the sidewalk in front of the store via a striped crosswalk, with ramps to accommodate wheelchairs. The sidewalk would have a railing along its outer edge to force pedestrians into a designated opening.
Additionally, new yellow lane-striping near the site’s eastern driveway would “help define the transition from the two-way entrance to the northbound one-way drive aisle,” Freud wrote.
The planning board had been scheduled to take up Freud proposals, which have not previously been disclosed, on July 16. But that meeting was canceled over a lack of quorum. The hearing is scheduled to resume Tuesday, August 20, at the Knollwood School, where large crowds have been following the matter for several months.
The board is also expected to hear from Betsy Dolan, of Dolan & Dean Consulting Engineers, whom it hired to review the parking and traffic elements of the proposal.
In a July 12 letter to the board obtained by redbankgreen, Dolan commented on two concepts: Freud’s, and one drawn up by borough Engineer Rich Gardella.
Gardella suggested the elimination of the angled parking along the shopping center’s northern wall, creating space for a two-way drive aisle where there’s now a one-way, Dolan said. The plan would also change the remaining angled parking in the northern lot to perpendicular spots.
The “only negative” to that plan is that it would create a tight turn for vehicles leaving the drive aisle via the western driveway intending to head east on River Road, Dolan wrote. The same would be true for an eastbound vehicle entering the site through the eastern driveway, she wrote.
Freud’s plan, Dolan noted, would allow up to three vehicles could queue to ext the site at the eastern driveway.
Among Dolan’s recommendations: make the eastern driveway a right-turn-only exit. She also says the railing proposed by Freud should extend to the stop sign at that driveway.
At the June 18 meeting, board members and residents voiced concerns about the impact of cars queuing up on-site as customers attempt to make a left turn onto westbound River Road. Dangers to kids enroute to the towns’ two schools on foot or bicycle were also cited.
But Dan Hughes, managing partner of the LLC that gave the center a $4 million makeover under a site plan approved by the board two years ago, said it was “ridiculous” to argue that the site cannot safely accommodate a Dunkin’ store.
“It can handle it without any problem,” he said, citing ample parking, multiple entrances and exits, and the varying times at which stores in the center would be busy.
The shop would be operated by Dominic Sequeira, of Lincroft, who with family members also owns Dunkin’ shops in Red Bank, Tinton Falls and Lincroft.