According to the Moorestown Police Department, the township’s Golf View Road has for years been a source of concern in terms of pedestrian safety.
At its most recent meeting, Moorestown Council was presented with a plan to turn a section of the road into a one-way street. But a handful of residents who live in the area balked at the idea, fearing a one-way road would cause more problems than it fixes.
Ken Shine, project manager at the local engineering company Pennoni, presented a concept plan Monday night. It calls for an approximately 750- foot, S curve section of Golf View to go from two-way to one-way from Maple Avenue toward Park Drive. The plan directs traffic toward William Allen Middle School and Moorestown High School, so in the event of an emergency, first responders can have quicker access to the schools.
Pennoni originally offered his plan in December, 2019. Concrete work and paving improvements began in July, and paving of the S curve is scheduled for this month. After the road is paved, the area will need new striping and signage, the impetus for council’s discussion on whether now is the time to turn the area into a one-way.
Moorestown Police Chief Lee Lieber said through the years, his department has received complaints from bicyclists and walkers that the narrow stretch of Golf View Road is unsafe for pedestrian travel. He explained that as motorists try to negotiate the narrow lanes along the curve, rather than slowing down, they typically swing out wide and veer into the pedestrian traffic area. Lieber said during his own time walking the area, he was nearly hit.
“Our main thrust with this was to try to make it safer for pedestrians and [cyclists],” he said.
Councilwoman Lisa Petriello said she had a similar experience walking Golf View when she lived in the area. She stopped walking there because she felt the road was dangerous.
“It needs to be one way in my opinion,” Petriello said.
Resident Robert Scott Whitley said his home is situated at the corner of Elm Street and overlooks the S curve section of Golf View. He said the latter relieves bottlenecks that form along Stanwick Road during school hours, and making Golf View one-way will only add to the congestion surrounding nearby schools.
Whitley proposed the township widen the roadway and consider creating a pedestrian pathway that would cut through the nearby wetlands. He said this summer’s storms have already sent some of the trees in the area toppling down, and so, in his eyes, the township would have less to clear in order to create such a pathway.
Resident Beth Tomasco thanked the council for the paving and gutter improvements, but she believes the major problem along Golf View Road is speeding that happens when drivers use the roadway as a cut-through to schools.
“It’s a constant issue,” she insisted. “I’ve always questioned why there was such opposition to police patrol and why there [are] no speed traps.”
Tomasco fears that changing the narrow street from two-way traffic to one will only encourage motorists to drive faster. She also took issue with the proposed signage in the area, saying not only will the numerous signs be “aesthetically unpleasing,” they would also create confusion for motorists, resulting in bottlenecks and K turns in residents’ driveways.
Lieber explained that his officers have been on Golf View on numerous occasions and have found that excessive speeding isn’t an issue there. While some motorists may exceed the speed limit, he said most typically only did so by five or 10 miles per hour. Officers do patrol the street, but with several spots in town that need monitoring, they can only get out there as manpower permits.
Tomasco said her preferred solution would be to keep the road two-way, have police monitor the area and add a separate pathway for pedestrians.
Beth-Ann Grasso, division manager at Pennoni, said the issue with creating a pedestrian pathway is that Golf View Road is surrounded by wetlands and expanding the road would require the township to get permission from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. She added that a separate pathway would also create issues with stormwater drainage and would result in the township having to create some kind of drainage basin.
While councilwoman Victoria Napolitano said she was in favor of measures to create a safer path for pedestrians, she fears changing the traffic pattern may create confusion for residents.
“I’m very concerned this is going to cause more problems than it solves,” she said.
Mayor Nicole Gillespie believes council needs more time and data to look at the area before it changes the road pattern. She asked Shine if there was any way to put temporary striping in place while potential solutions are studied.
Shine ultimately recommended the township pave and leave the traffic conditions as they are while Pennoni works through alternate options.
The next meeting of Moorestown Township Council will take place on Monday, Aug. 24.