Greetings, fellow residents of Montclair.

As many of us are aware, there is a heightened sense of urgency regarding traffic and safety concerns at multiple intersections in our township. Two intersections in particular — the Watchung Plaza, Watchung Avenue and Park Street intersection, and the corner of Valley Road and Mt. Hebron Road — have been problematic with respect to the number of recent accidents that have occurred at these locations. Both intersections are highly trafficked by pedestrians and motor vehicles, schools are in close proximity to both areas, and the safety of pedestrians and motorists has been tenuous and must be addressed. 

Sixteen accidents have occurred at the intersection of Mt. Hebron Road and Valley Road over the past two years, including an accident in June of 2021 involving the Bradford School crossing guard being hit by a vehicle. Three accidents occurred in the month of November 2021 alone, one involving a turned-over car on a weekday morning while school was in session. These incidents have hit close to home as I was involved in a car accident at this very corner in February of this year.

The Township Council recently requested that Essex County commission a traffic study for the Watchung Avenue, Park Street, and Watchung Plaza area. Four crashes have been reported at this intersection in 2022, including an incident with a mother and child being struck by a car on March 14. 

This is unacceptable. 


I support the request for a traffic study and — as a county commissioner — I will do all I can to facilitate its completion. Upon review of the traffic study, I will employ all means at my disposal to have Essex County act with urgency in implementing any and all recommendations offered to improve safety for our residents.

Additionally, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the need for a similar study at the intersection of Valley Road and Mt. Hebron Road. It is clear that safety measures at these intersections must be enhanced and in compliance with the SAFE Complete Streets Implementation Plan prepared by the Township of Montclair, as well as the Complete Streets policies adopted by Essex County in 2012. 

The safety of our residents must always be our highest priority. Issues must be handled proactively and with urgency, rather than waiting for horrific injury or worse due to unsafe traffic conditions. I look forward to working with the Township of Montclair, the Essex County Department of Public Works and our County Administration to expedite the process of having these concerns addressed.

Brendan W. Gill
County commissioner and Montclair resident

Editor's note: The Montclair Township Council passed a resolution at its April 5 meeting \asking county officials to install overhead traffic signals at the Mt. Hebron Road and Valley Road intersection, where there are currently lower pole-mounted lights. The Montclair Township Police Department conducted an initial traffic study of the intersection in February, and determined there was a speeding issue on Hebron Road East of Valley Road, officials have said; a more comprehensive study with further speed monitoring of the area is planned.

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