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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mayor Goes "Cherry Picking" To Defend Pedestrian Signal Location

     The pedestrian activated traffic light located midblock on Central Ave. at the cul-de-sac'd intersection of Central Ave. and Cambridge Rd. continues to be debated at Town Council planning sessions and at regularly scheduled Town Council meetings.     
     TFoTM has obtained both expert reports compiled by the County's consulting engineer The Louis Berger Group and Westfield's consulting engineer Gordon Meth. Westfield (Meth) Report: states 800-900 vehicles per hour per direction" (1600-1800 vehicles). 
     The County report states "1920-2000 vehicles per hour during the AM and PM peak hours."  The County report titled Signal Warrant Analysis also states, "Elementary school children are of special concern regarding their interaction with motorized vehicles. Children are less able to make such judgments, being less attentive to their surroundings. A child's difficulty at determining a safe time to cross a busy street is compounded at a corner where the child must keep track of two directions of traffic and side-street cars turning into the pathway."



     The Mayor's statement, found in a Westfield Patch online article (see link below) is misleading, “What I go by is what they say here, regardless of whether there’s a light there. It’s safer where it is,” Skibitsky said. “You want to move it to a place that’s less safe? We’re not going to pursue that unless our analysis shows it doesn’t work, and so far I haven’t seen it.” .  None of the expert reports suggest one location over the other as being safer than the other.  The analysis is incomplete because there was never a light at the original proposed location, at the corner, to compare the two.
    Mayor Skibitsky has echoed the County report that states “Children are less able to make such judgments, being less attentive to their surroundings. A child’s difficulty at determining a safe time to cross the street is compounded at a corner."  Both are correct however, what the Mayor does not state is that the County's observation was made without the presence of a traffic signal or pedestrian activated light. 
     A pedestrian activated signal at the corner would control both Central and Clover. At major 4 lane intersections in Tucson, Arizona, where this pedestrian light was first introduced, the "Hawk" system yielded a 97% compliance rate of motorists stopping for pedestrians at intersections.
     Also, resident's concerns that a signal at the intersection would create cut-through traffic down residential side streets are minimized and eventually a non factor  with a "Hawk" pedestrian activated light. The "Hawk" system stops traffic for a time period of 10 - 20 seconds as opposed to a traditional traffic light stopping traffic for up to 2 minutes which could cause motorists to divert down side streets. 

     A conversation with the County's consulting engineer on March 11 yielded more information to refute Mayor Skibitsky's claims that a mid-block pedestrian light is safer than one placed at the intersection of Central and Clover. These findings will be presented here and at the next Town Council meeting on March 29th. 
    
     Finally, the report that Mayor Skibitsky and 3rd Ward Councilman Mark Ciarrocca refer to in defense of the light's current location states in it's Conclusion that:  "Based on above analysis, School Crossing Warrant 5.0 is satisfied at Intersection of Central Avenue and Clover Street. The INSTALLATION OF PEDESTRIAN SIGNAL will certainly improve the safety of elementary school age pedestrians, within the vicinity of the neighborhood."

See Union County Consulting Engineer Report by clicking on the following link: http://07090.blogspot.com/2011/03/hot-topic-central-ave-pedestrian.html

Go to Westfield Patch to read coverage of this ongoing issue by clicking on the following link:

4 comments:

  1. Help me out - I've watched this issue from afar - why is this pedestrian signal such a big deal? Are people being harmed by the signal being in place? Could it actually be of any use? Are there any counts as to the number of people using it on a weekly basis? And back to my original question - what is the harm in the signal? From the posts on this blog, it seems like someone was hurt by it being placed. Just curious, what is the big deal all about? That's something I haven't seen in writing on this subject yet.

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  2. Adina EnculescuMonday, March 28, 2011

    I'll try to help you out. All the crosswalks all over the town and around the schools are at the corners, at the streets intersections because there is the safest place to cross a street. Everybody learned that since childhood and every responsible driver knows and feels to slow down at the intersections.
    The new crosswalk and the traffic lights put in the middle of the block on Central Avenue is unsafe for pedestrians and very unsafe for the members of my family and for everybody who would visit my house because my driveway is simply framed by the traffic lights and the crosswalk. One can’t see any light pulling out of the driveway. Actually my driveway could be very easily mistaken for a street being between the traffic lights, so my property is is unsafe too. It is like I live in the middle of an intersection. My house was dramatically devalued. Without previous notification my relatively new driveway was damaged, the front of my property was disfigured. All these happened without any logic, as a result of a badly conceived project imposed by the Town for political reasons, and.
    These are the reasons that more than 140 people from the neighborhood rallied with my cause. All of us recognize the necessity of a safe crosswalk and of a traffic light at the intersection of Clover Street with Central Ave where is the safest place for pedestrians. We simply asked the crosswalk and the lights to be moved at the intersection where they belong.

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  3. Adina EnculescuMonday, March 28, 2011

    I would like to thank TFoTM for the correct, explicit and documented article regarding the new crosswalk and the traffic lights on Central Ave placed in the middle of the block in front of my property. This was a mistake, and the Mayor should consider to correct it, and to move them to the Clover Street–Central Avenue intersection, where they belong.
    I also want to thank you for the information you offer us regarding different aspects of life in our town so we could be aware of things nobody else would let us know

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  4. The Fact of The Matter is that Mayor Skibitsky, unlike his fellow council member Jo Ann Neylan, can't admit that a mistake has been made after a decision by the Town Council backfired. Last year, Councilwoman Neylan admitted a mistake was made by removing the crossing guard from the intersection of Central & Clifton/Sycamore and eventually rectified the mistake after numerous complaints. Mayor Skibitsky's "rose colored" glasses, with regards to the Central Ave. mid-block pedestrian overhead light, don't appear to be polarized which would have allowed him to see through the mistake and correct it. Politics won't allow that.

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