Council wants state to solve Route 23 traffic

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:50

    FRANKLIN-It's no secret that traffic on Route 23 is bad. In an effort to make it better, the borough council last week approved two separate, yet related, measures that intended to help the town find a way to manage traffic flow better in the event of a life-threatening automobile accident. The first resolution, introduced by Councilman Jack Stoll and seconded by John Sowden IV, calls for Master Street to be sealed off from the Route 23 entrance point. The second measure, also introduced by Stoll and seconded by Councilman Jim Williams, calls for reversing Rutherford Avenue's one-way status behind Red's Deli so that it no longer exits on Route 23. Both measures were unanimously approved by the council. The resolutions declare the town's desires, but it is up to the N.J. Department of Transportation to implement the changes - if it thinks them necessary. Williams, who is also a member of the borough's fire department, said that "it is only a matter of time" before a vehicular fatality occurs on 23, which has particularly heavy amounts of traffic during both the morning and evening rush hours. Recalling a fatal accident some two years ago near a Shell Station and a bank on the highway, Williams said he wants state transportation officials to return to town and devise better ways to deal with traffic flow and volume. "If we have a major accident, we're going to have a major problem," Williams said. "In a fatal accident, it's nothing to be tied up (in traffic) for two or three hours. Can you imagine being tied up on a Saturday afternoon from 2 until 5:30 p.m.?" Both resolutions are being forwarded to state highway officials, who are then expected to inspect the two highway sites before offering recommendations on how best to do what the borough wants. Understanding the process could take up to six months or more, the borough wants "to get the ball rolling" toward that end,Acting Borough Clerk Pat Leasure said. Less than two years ago, the Rutherford Avenue-Route 23 point behind the delicatessen was open to traffic in both directions. At that time, Williams said, the borough wanted to create the same one-way exit off 23 onto Rutherford but met with oppositioDOT, which had wanted a deceleration lane. Lacking land to build it, the tricky intersection became a one-way exit onto the highway. Williams said that since people can no longer exit onto Rutherford from heavy highway traffic, many travel a little farther south on 23 and turn off onto Master Street instead, turning that into a "little highway" of its own. Williams emphatically asked, "Where are we going to put the traffic?" in the event of another serious accident on 23. In past years, the town was able to divert traffic off 23 and onto 23 through Rutherford Avenue. "After you turn off of 23, we want you to slow down almost immediately," Williams said, with 25 miles per hour being the desired speed. "But something has to be done there with that. And we'll have to do something with Master Street. "We want to get the state people back up here and say, ‘Now look, this is wrong,' This is not working because if we ever have an emergency situation, there's no place to put the traffic. We understand there's a problem with the deceleration lane due to the fact there isn't enough land there, but DOT traffic people have to be able to figure something out there to make it a one-way in.