By Jaimie Julia Winters

Essex County is planning a $15 million signal reconfiguration project on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair, expected to begin next year.

The Planning Board has met with the county on the plans and a committee was formed to advise the county on what is needed, said planning board member Martin Schwartz. The committee was first formed to address issues at the five-corner intersection of Bloomfield Avenue and North and South Fullerton avenues, and the need to move pedestrians directly between Glenridge Avenue and Church Street.

Plans call for separate turning lanes at the corner to create better traffic flow and to alleviate backups plaguing the intersection. Delayed signals are planned for northbound traffic or southbound traffic on North and South Fullerton avenues, replacing the current green light for both directions, Talley said.

“It’s not just a traffic flow problem. It relates to the economic development of the area. We need to activate that side of the street,” said Schwartz, about adding a pedestrian walkway.

With other development in the works, such as the Seymour Street arts hub and the redevelopment of Lackawanna Plaza, the committee decided to take the opportunity to look at the entire stretch of Bloomfield Avenue to address traffic flow and pedestrian walkability.

The committee recommended “bump outs” or curb extensions at key intersections along Bloomfield Avenue.

Planning Director Janice Talley confirmed that Essex County received the federal funding to synchronize all of the traffic lights on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. Essex County had submitted a concept plan and invited Montclair officials to review it.  

The county sent Montclair revised plans that did not include all of the committee’s suggestions, said Talley.

“I found some anomalies on what the planning board, economic development committee advanced as recommendations,” she said.

The town has prepared a response to the county, including the Planning Board-approved plans and a strong recommendation for sidewalk bump outs and turn lanes along Bloomfield Avenue.  

The county did not return calls on details of the plan.