RED BANK: TWO MORE FOUR-WAY STOPS OK’D

The intersection of Chestnut and Pearl streets may finally get long-discussed four-way stop signs. (2009 photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topicTwo Red Bank intersections may soon be getting four-way stops, if the borough council follows through on plans it greenlighted informally Wednesday night.

At the council’s request, the police department’s traffic safety unit recently reviewed six intersections considered potential locations for four-ways, police chief and interim Business Administrator Darren McConnell told the council during its monthly workshop session.

They were the intersections of Drs. Parker Boulevard and Leighton Avenue; River Street and Leighton; River and Tilton Avenue; Chestnut and Pearl streets; Spring Street and Tower Hill Avenue; and Prospect Avenue and McLaren Street.

Factors considered were the number of accidents and injuries at each since January, 2018, McConnell said.

“What we looked at was how the accidents happened, and whether they would be preventable if we had a four-way stop there,” he said.

The two with the most accidents were Spring and Tower Hill and Chestnut and Pearl, he said. “They also had the highest percentage that would be preventable with a four-way stop,” he said.

In response to comments by Councilwoman Angela Mirandi about speeding, McConnell said the federal government’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways “specifically prohibits” the use of four-way stops as speed control devices.

Speeding, however, “is getting worse” all over town, Mirandi said, pressing McConnell for ways to address it.

The most effective, he said, are enforcement, “which lasts as long as enforcement is there,” and engineered road enhancements, such as speed humps, sidewalk bumpouts and other traffic-calming measures.

Mirandi asked if a traffic safety expert should be hired to evaluate the whole town, because complaints about speeding are “a common theme. I see it on my road all the time, drivers flying 50 miles an hour. Everybody says there’s not enough patrol in the neighborhoods to prevent people from doing it.”

“The four-way stops are good, but we’re not going to put four-way stops all over,” she said.

She also called for more ticketing of speeders, to let motorists know “we’re not standing for that in Red Bank.”

Councilwoman Kate Triggiano, who serves as the governing body’s liaison to the police department, said “that’s kind of suggesting there’s a cop watching somebody doing something wrong and not doing anything about it. And that’s not what the data shows in Red Bank. Our cops do do something when they see someone speeding.

“There’s a ton of effort going to this,” she said.

McConnell said police made about 500 traffic stops in September, and wrote about 320 violations.

Mayor Pasquale Menna, who lobbied for years to get what became the town’s first modern-era four-way stop installed in 2009, at what was then the accident-plagued intersection of Bridge Avenue and Chestnut Street, said the signage approach should be incremental, one or two intersections at a time.

Chestnut and Pearl was one of four intersections selected for a four-way stop in 2009. But the plan never went forward.

Since 2018, the intersection had a total of 11 accidents, five of which might have been prevented by a four-way stop, McConnell said. Spring and Tower Hill had 15 crashes in that time, nine of which would have been preventable, he said.

The council agreed to move ahead to ordinance changes for those two intersections at the next regular meeting.

In 2011, Menna proposed four-way stops at River Street where it intersects with Bridge Avenue, with Leighton Avenue, and with Tilton Avenue, just up the hill from Red Bank Primary School. But the those signs were never erected, either.

Four-way stops have been created at Oakland and Pearl streets, and at East Bergen Place and South Street.

Councilwoman Kathy Horgan, nearing the end of her 16years on the governing body, also called for pedestrian safety improvements to the intersection in front of her home, at Branch Avenue and East Bergen Place.

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