A black SUV veered into the shrubs near Montclair’s Porter Park on Friday, June 30. No one was harmed. The front end of the car was damaged. Some plants and small trees were unrooted.
This accident is not unique. The three-way intersection of Union, Harrison and Orange has been the scene of multiple crashes in recent months. A more severe car accident occurred on March 20, resulting in a totaled car and a fallen lamppost.
The residents in the surrounding neighborhood are concerned about the safety of this intersection.
Alliah Agostini Livingstone has noticed the dangers of this intersection since she moved to Montclair in 2014.
“[It has been] a sore spot in our neighborhood for longer than nine years,” said Livingstone. “The accidents have amplified over the past two years, with many of them nearing the perimeter of my home. As predicted, one eventually hit our property. I’m a mom of young children and we have been rattled by the constant accidents.”
Livingstone tried to make her neighborhood safer. Recently, she posted a sign notifying drivers of an upcoming traffic light. Still, Livingstone feels that more concrete actions need to be taken.
Livingstone and her neighbors reached out to Township officials about the need for improvements at the corner of Porter Park.
Third Ward Councilwoman Lori Price Abrams and Township Engineer Norberto Hernandez met with eight families who live near the site of the car crash on Wednesday, July 5.
Price Abrams acknowledged that Livingstone and her neighbors raised legitimate points about the safety of the intersection.
“I share their deep concerns for having seen too many crashes and for which they have real fear for the safety of their families and other travelers,” Price Abrams said.
Price Abrams and Hernandez offered short term and long term solutions to the issue. In the immediate future, the town can add signs that read “SLOW – STOPLIGHT AHEAD” and can review the length of time between green lights and red lights.
“A greater delay between red and green switches may help avoid the possibility of competing traffic entering the intersection,” Price Abrams said.
In the long term, the town will extend the length of the traffic light arm, placing the traffic light itself in a more visible position. The town will replace the current lenses with non-polarized lenses in order to make the signal brighter from a wider range of angles.
Price Abrams did not offer an exact timetable for the long term changes.
There are other dangerous intersections in Montclair. Price Abrams has advocated for a new task force focused on eliminating traffic accidents.
“I have helped to champion the creation of Montclair’s Vision Zero Task Force, with the bold mission to set recommendations to eliminate all traffic-related injuries and deaths in Montclair by the end of 2028,” Price Abrams said. “The council expects to finalize appointments to the body this month to begin to make real change. The Union, Harrison and Orange intersection near Porter Park is one very concerning example in Montclair.”
Livingstone is grateful for the impending improvements, but she is still disappointed by how long the process took.
“While I’m hopeful change will come soon, it has been nerve-wracking, frustrating and disappointing for it to have taken so much time and collective effort to solve an issue at an intersection traversed by so many motorists and pedestrians daily,” Livingstone said.