Westfield Town Administrator Jim Gildea's statement to resident Adina Enculescu as reported by Lauren Barr of The Westfield Leader "to be clear...the town did not recommend to put the light in front of your home." Click on the following link for related story:
At last night's Town Council Meeting a question, previously unanswered by the Town Council, regarding the input of the Westfield Police Department's involvement in the design plan of the pedestrian activated light at the cul-de-sac'd intersection of Cambridge Rd. & Central Ave., was finally answered.
Why was the Westfield Police Department's Traffic Safety Bureau initially involved, then ultimately excluded from the meetings and process to determine what traffic safety improvements should be made with respect to Central and Clover?
|3rd Ward Councilman |
The overtime rate of the police department's traffic safety bureau officer (approx.$70 per hour) at the time of the meetings was far less than the hourly rate the Town's Consulting Engineering expert Gordon Meth was paid.
In a letter dated October 6, 2006 from Westfield Town Administrator Jim Gildea to the Department of Engineering & Public Works Director Joseph A. Graziano, Mr. Gildea states the following, "As requested, I enclose the concept plan that the Town of Westfield endorses in relation to the portion of Central Ave between Rodger Ave. and Cedar St. The consensus built concept plan was a product of many neighborhood outreach meetings in conjunction with recommendations of our traffic consultant. Please include these plans in the analysis and recommendations for your Central Avenue corridor project."
The concept plan requesting a mid-block crossing was submitted to Union County by Westfield. It was determined that a mistake had been made by Westfield's expert which placed the light and crosswalk too close to the intersection of Central & Clover, if it was to be located away from the intersection.
How much money was spent on this flawed plan that required Union County to correct the mistake and move it the minimum 100 ft away from the nearest intersection (Central & Clover)?
Was Cambridge Rd. cu-de-sac'd to allow the mid-block crossing? Earlier suggestions have been that the cul-de-sac's at Cambridge and Belmar were created to prevent cut-through traffic if a traditional red/green/amber traffic light were to be installed at the original proposed location of Central & Clover.
A hybrid pedestrian light, such as the "Hawk" system currently installed in front of a residents home, if placed at an intersection reduces "cut-through traffic" on arterial streets, that a traditional traffic light might cause, due to the shortened wait time of motorists. So why wasn't the pedestrian light placed at the intersection of Central & Clover?
Why not cul-de-sac Central and Clover and keep the pedestrian crossing at its original location if the desire to reduce "contact points" was a concern?
Mayor Skibitsky has stated that the current location of the light is the "safest" location without providing any expert documentation to back his non-expert opinion.
A question by 3rd Ward Councilman David Haas, found on the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration website asked "How does one determine if a signalized intersection or a Hawk mid-block crossing is the safer approach given that either location meets the warrant analysis?"
One of the answers Councilman Haas received was the following:
"From your question, "One" should not make the determination; the determination should be made by an engineer, appropriately trained and/or experienced in traffic control devices; in performing an engineering study of traffic conditions, pedestrian characteristics, and physical characteristics of the particular location."
Another respondent answered:
Dave (Haas), it sounds like you are stepping into a minefield. If your fellow council members don't think it worthwhile to pay a traffic professional to present expert testimony in his field, you may want to think about taking on the potential professional "liability" of trying to provide engineering opinions outside of your field of expertise; regardless of how well intentioned."
TFoTM once again asks Mayor Skibitsky: How can you claim this location to be the "safest" without being "an engineer, appropriately trained and/or experienced in traffic control devices; in performing an engineering study of traffic conditions, pedestrian characteristics, and physical characteristics of the particular location."
TFoTM has been unable to locate any documentation validating the Mayor's opinion.
The amount of money spent on this project totalled over $120,000 in 2005 dollars.
Might it have been a wise investment to include Westfield Police Department's Traffic Safety Bureau in all of the public outreach meetings at a cost far less than Westfield's consulting engineering "expert"? An expert that made a mistake on the "consensus built project"? Where did the Traffic Safety Bureau suggest to place the pedestrian activated light?
How much money is going to be spent on the Westfield Police Department's analysis of this pedestrian crossing, to justify it's location, as a result of the public outcry for it's relocation to the original proposed location of Central & Clover?