Cranbury official looks to better illuminate downtown to improve safety

BY Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2 | Jun 15, 2018 | MonroeNow

CRANBURY – A plan from a township committeeman calls for swapping out some of the older lights on Main Street with newer, better illuminating bulbs as part of overall efforts to increase traffic and pedestrian safety.

Matthew Scott suggested his idea at the June 11 Township Committee meeting.

“I’m hoping to push this forward in the next few weeks,” said Scott, who outlined the need for improving lighting on the main drag. “I’ve spoken with PSE&G and hoping to swap out the induction older lights and have a better lighting and safety environment. But we still have to put the numbers together.”

Traffic safety has become a growing concern in the small township that has increasingly become a cut-through for commuters heading to the New Jersey Turnpike, while its growing warehouse district has resulted in more vehicles on the roads. In May 2017, a 13-year-old girl and her dog were struck in a hit-and-run accident at the intersection of South Main Street and Evans Drive. The girl survived her injuries, but her dog was killed.

The governing body, for its part, recognizing that there is a problem, this year added funding into the 2018 municipal budget to hire two police officers dedicated to traffic enforcement. And in a previous meeting, Mayor Glenn Johnson said even options such as video surveillance may need to be considered.

In a letter to the community on Friday, Police Chief Rickey Varga outlined initiatives the department has undertaken to mitigate traffic problems.

“Over the years, we have implemented numerous programs,” Varga wrote. “Please be assured that Traffic Safety/Enforcement has been and will continue to be atop our operational priorities. … We will continue to work hard and through enforcement along with progressive programs we will strive to make our community one of the safest in the state.”

Some of the initiatives Varga outlined include crosswalk enforcement, advisory board about traffic compliance, the traffic enforcement “ghost” car, and steps to acquire electric speed signs and the eventual hiring of the two dedicated traffic officers.

Adding better lighting in the downtown area, Scott believes will only help the initiatives undertaken in recent years to improve safety.

“This is the quickest and easiest way to help improve safety,” Scott said. “And we don’t even have to get the state involved.”

His fellow committeeman, Daniel Mulligan agreed.

“Lights on streets create better visibility,” he said. But he also said the governing body needs the financials because revamping lighting in a community can get expensive. Additionally, “We should look at the entire town.”