Roads Are Underutilized, Says Hekemian Traffic Expert
Hekemian's traffic expert says additional traffic that may result from the proposed development of the United Water property can be accommodated because the roads are underutilized.
According to Elizabeth "Betsy" Dolan, a traffic engineer hired by Hekemian, the additional traffic caused by the proposed development can be accommodated because the roads that she studied around the area are "underutilized."
Dolan, hired by Hekemian to analyze the traffic impact and trip generation of the proposed development of the United Water property, reappeared before the zoning board of adjustment Tuesday to continue her testimony on the traffic study she prepared for the proposed site.
Testifying that “traffic volumes don’t warrant traffic signals," Dolan said that there are currently no plans to add additional traffic signals on any of the side streets that lead to the access driveways of the proposed development.
When questioned as to what traffic volumes warrant traffic signals, Dolan responded, "About 1900." Her observation recorded approximately 500 in the morning, 400 in the afternoon, 459 evening and 350 on Saturday.
Central to the questioning of Dolan's testimony was Demarest Ave., an intersecting road that lies perpendicular to River Road and is located directly across from one of the proposed driveways that will lead into the new ShopRite parking lot.
Board member Joseph Binetti asked about the overflow traffic that will come down side streets.
"People will be using Demarest Avenue to get to Boulevard; yet, for overflow you have 'zero,'" Binetti said. "That's inaccurate based on the present site."
Dolan responded that she didn’t distribute traffic through cut-through residential streets; she used major streets such as north/south on River Road and east/west on Main Street.
Binetti stressed that Dolan look at that. "You have a small residential street (Demarest) that cuts through to Boulevard. How is the overflow going to be controlled?"
Acting Chairman of the Hekemian proceedings, Ronald Stokes said, "I’m shocked this wasn’t put into the traffic report."
"You’re putting an entrance to a store perpendicular to a residential street," he said.
Dolan proposed adding a third lane on River Rd. for left hand turns into the driveway of the Shoprite going in both directions. According to Dolan, that section of River Road, which is municipal owned and not county owned, is approximately 30 feet wide.
Sproviero remarked that each lane would be approximately 10 feet wide, noting that the parking spaces for the proposed development are 9 feet wide.
"You're distributing a three lane area (putting a third lane between the two already there) and (these lanes) are essentially no bigger than a parking space?" Sproviero commented.
Stokes asked Margita Batistic, borough engineer, to have Boswell look at the impact of 30 ft road with 10 ft lanes. Batistic remarked that she never created a lane less than 11 or 12ft. "That is the desirable width," she said.
Oradell resident Tom Belthoff, who grew up in New Milford, questioned Dolan on whether she took the train station on Main Street into consideration when conducting her traffic flow observations.
Belthoff said that when trains come through to pick up and discharge passengers, as they do many times during peak rush hours, traffic comes to a complete standstill, resulting in the stacking of cars.
Over the objection of Hekemian's lawyer, Antimo DelVecchio, Belthoff stated, "The Pascack Valley line has 22 trains coming through between the peak morning rush hours."
Dolan was also unaware of the application pending before the zoning board of the Gospel Fellowship Church and did not take into consideration the potential impact of that traffic on River Road.
Dolan reported that she provided for 354 spaces for new ShopRite. 470 is the number of spaces required by ordinance.
"We’re going five per 1000 sq ft which exceed ITE 4 per 1000sq/ft," Dolan said.
The traffic estimates Dolan relied upon in the preparation of her analysis were obtained through ITE's supermarket land use category, along with ITE's (Institute of Traffic Engineers) category for drive-thru banks and for apartments where estimates of trip generations for land uses the size and scope of the proposed development are available.
In addition to using those estimates, Dolan also studied current traffic patterns along River Road in the vicinity of the high school at the following hours during the month of September 2011 and February, March and April 2012:
- Monday through Friday 7am-9am; 2pm to 4pm; and 4pm to 6pm.
- 1pm to 2pm Saturday
Dolan looked at the following peak hours during the week:
- 7pm to 9pm summarized peak hour at each intersection
- 2pm to 4pm
- 4pm to 6pm
Dolan also looked at Saturday from 11am to 2pm.
The next special meeting of the Zoning Board will be Thurs., Sept. 27 beginning at 7pm in the council chambers of borough.