Petition: Harrison Avenue and Llewellyn Road intersection needs traffic light
PHOTO BY ERIN ROLL/STAFF
By ERIN ROLL
A Montclair resident has launched a petition to have a traffic light installed at the intersection of Llewellyn Road and Harrison Avenue.
In the petition posted on Change.org on Oct. 22, Joni Mintz Cohen said the intersection has seen 17 accidents since 2016, a trend that she attributes to the blinking amber light at the intersection, and motorists’ confusion over how to maneuver it.
“Many motorists do not know how to respond to this traffic light. Having a real working traffic light will eliminate all of these hazardous accidents,” Cohen said.
The Montclair Police Department recorded 19 accidents at that intersection between 2014 and 2018, none of them resulting in injuries or involving pedestrians.
The petition had 73 signatures as of Monday, Oct. 28.
In New Jersey, when a motorist approaches a flashing red signal, they must stop, and then proceed if the oncoming traffic lanes are clear. A flashing yellow or amber signal means drivers should proceed with caution.
“This is an extremely dangerous corner and absolutely needs a real traffic light. Many times it is impossible to see oncoming traffic because of cars parked along the road,” one commenter wrote.
Both Harrison Avenue and Llewellyn Road are township-owned roads.
Over the past few years, the intersection has become a major concern of neighbors, and it’s on the pedestrian safety committee’s radar, said acting pedestrian committee chair Jacqueline Mroz.
“The cars are like flying down the street, and it’s dangerous,” Mroz said.
Jeff Cooperman, who is a member of the pedestrian safety committee and lives near the intersection, said it is especially dangerous for his children to cross the street to go play in Nishuane Park. The section of Harrison Avenue adjoining Nishuane Park was designated an area in need of attention in the township’s Safe Streets report.
He said drivers speed and frequently ignore pedestrians attempting to cross. The intersections at Harrison and Llewellyn, and at Harrison and Cedar Avenue, next to the Montclair Fire Department’s South End firehouse, are especially accident-prone, he said.
Over the past five years, he said, the stretch of Harrison Avenue nearest to Nishuane Park, between Cedar Avenue and Llewellyn Road, has seen 144 accidents, with 29 of them resulting in injuries. The injuries included three pedestrians and two cyclists.
The New Jersey Department of Transportation considers Harrison Avenue a “collector road,” an intermediate-size street that connects local streets to arterial roads, Cooperman said. What it means, he said, is that many traffic-calming devices are discouraged because they slow down the response times for emergency vehicles. The result, he said, is that intersections such as Harrison and Llewellyn and Harrison and Cedar are dangerous.
Drivers tend to ignore the flashing amber lights at the intersection, Cooperman said. “The intersection would be safer without them at all,” he said, adding that a four-way stop with warning signs posted in advance would be best.
Cooperman said he has lobbied the town to paint new zebra crossings between Nishuane Park and the opposite side of Harrison Avenue, since there was no safe way for pedestrians to cross to the park. “The township ultimately did paint two crosswalks, but flat-out refused to add more than a single pedestrian-crossing sign to alert drivers that the law is on the side of pedestrians,” Cooperman said. “Results come, but begrudgingly.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly gave Jeff Cooperman's first name.