By James Sinclair
On February 11, at 7:00pm, the first of four community meetings was held in New Brunswick to discuss plans on how to make Livingston Avenue safer for all users. A joint project between Middlesex County and the City of New Brunswick, the study will look at Livingston Avenue between New Street and Elizabeth Street.
The meeting attracted a large crowd, including many parents with children in tow. Spanish translation was provided during the entire event.
For many years, Livingston Avenue has had two traffic lanes in each direction, and parking on either side. Last year, after a collision involving three children in a crosswalk, the county implemented an emergency road diet where two lanes were replaced with a large center-turning lane near the elementary schools. Those changes were supported by a 2014 study, organized by the NJ Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center. The purpose of this new study is to craft a permanent redesign of the avenue that will make Livingston a safer environment for all users.
The meeting began with the engineering team describing the scope of the project. They stated that the plan was to follow a Complete Streets approach to ensure that the road is safe for all modes of transportation. The project team will be looking at lane configuration, lighting, traffic signals, signage, bus stops, and ADA compliance. The project team has also collected updated traffic information.
The project team gave examples of treatments that could be used to make Livingston Avenue safer. Recommendations include sidewalk extensions at crosswalks, high visibility crosswalks, bicycle lanes, and a turning lane. The team gave Route 45, in Woodbury, as an example of where similar changes were made.
A member of the audience asked if these changes were guaranteed to happen. The project team replied that both the city and county are very committed to improving safety on Livingston Avenue, and they would work to guarantee funding once a design has been selected.
After the short presentation, the project team opened the meeting to public comment. Attendees were invited to look at maps and boards with examples of the kind of changes that could be possible. They were asked to speak to project members and also leave written comments. Staff from the city of New Brunswick and Middlesex County were on hand to hear the comments, and a Councilwoman also attended.
If you did not attend the meeting but would like to provide your input, written comments will be accepted until February 25th. Those comments can be mailed to:
Office of the County Engineer
333 Townsend Street
New Brunswick, NJ, 08901
Attn: Ken Preteroti
You can also email the engineering department at: firstname.lastname@example.org Make sure to identify your email as a response to the public comment for the Livingston Avenue project.
Public comments are very important at the early stage of projects like this. The project team will be able to develop a range of proposals, many with tradeoffs. By providing comments now, the community can make it clear what is most important to them, and which tradeoffs they are willing to accept.
Further meetings are to be scheduled to update the community on the progress of the study.