by Phil Stilton
“My question now becomes what other criteria is missing? Lack of deaths? Lack of violations issued? Time of accidents? I am not fully comprehending the thought process and most definitely cannot understand the logic of the latest approach to consider a 4 way stop at this intersection instead of a stop light?” – Jackson Mayor Mike Reina to County Engineer Frank Scarrantino in 2014 letter.
JACKSON-Documents obtained today through an Open Public Records Act request highlight Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina’s concern over future fatalities at the West Veterans Highway and Hawkin Road intersection dating back to 2012.
The intersection was the scene of another fatal accident of a 17 year old township girl on February 26.
In October of 2014, Reina once again pleaded with Ocean County Engineer Frank Scarantino to address the matter which had not received the attention requested by former Plumsted Mayor, now New Jersey Assemblyman Ron Dancer, Reina or Plumsted’s new mayor, Jack Trotta.
“In the years that we have been discussing this issue I offer these simple thoughts for your consideration once again, Hawkin Rd and Rt.528 intersection has had more than it’s fair share of accidents, and the amount of accidents have increased as crash numbers can verify that statement.
“The simple accidents (if there are simple accidents really exist) are pale in comparison to the times that this intersection has been closed due to serious crashes including trucks, buses and cars and lets not forget to mention the amount of first responder resources expended at each one costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, You have stated many times that a traffic light does not meet the criteria. My question now becomes what other criteria is missing? Lack of deaths? Lack of violations issued? Time of accidents? I am not fully comprehending the thought process and most definitely cannot understand the logic of the latest approach to consider a 4 way stop at this intersection instead of a stop light?
“Let me be clear and respectful when I say this, a four way stop at this corner will be a deadly mistake and I will never agree to one on that corner. If people are crashing into each in broad daylight and on dry roads with a yellow blinking light I do not even want to think what will happen on a four way stop because
“I think we can al agree what’s there now is not working. Other considerations for a traffic light that I feel have been ignored is the amount of heavy commercial trucks traveling on Rt,528 and using Hawkin Rd as a cut through, NJ Transit Bus 528 route, New Egypt Raceway traffic as well as Great Adventure traffic combined with the number of school buses and local residential traffic all meet at this intersection. This all can be verified by the amount of commercial truck traffic using Hawkin Rd even though it has weight limit restriction signs conspicuously posted.
“Now through the local commercial services such as garbage, septic, oil, propane, recycling, etc,,, traversing Hawkin Rd, and you have all the ingredients needed for a bad thing to happen. It’s become both obvious and increasingly dangerous when you add the speeding, crossing over double solid lines and increased truck traffic on a road with a history of bad crashes. Hawkin Rd and Rt 537 has a traffic light and I will continue to argue the reasoning of why we cannot put one on Hawkin and Rt 528. As always I appreciate your time and consideration on this issue. Thank you.”
But the county engineer was not satisfied with the Mayor’s plea to save lives and reduce the risk of injury to motorists, “I do not share your reservations,” Scarantino penned to Reina.
Scarantino replied, “As you are aware this Department has monitored this intersection every year for the last 12 that I am aware of.
“I understand that there appears to be something about this location results in an excessive number of accidents. The criteria we follow is the National standard of warrants found in the MUTCD ( Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices ). Since traffic signals cause driver decisions that statistically lead to a number of accidents the criteria is used to assure that the signal will not cause more problems than it solves. Although the majority of warrants rely on traffic volumes there is an accident warrant as well and prior to this year, as hard as it may be to believe, this warrant was not satisfied.”
In June of 2014, shortly after assuming her new post as Jackson’s Business Administrator, one of Helene Schlegel’s first actions was to call the county to task and order a complete safety review of all of Jackson’s county highways.
“I have recently been appointed Jackson Township’s Business Administrator. I am hoping that you can be of assistance in providing some needed information,” Shlegel wrote. “We would iike to request an update on the paving of all County roads in Jackson Township, Additionally, due to the exorbitant amount of serious traffic incidents, we would iike to request a safety review of all County roads in Jackson Township.”