New township policy aims for safer streets

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MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – A policy approved this week aimed at making Middle Township streets safer could help the municipality get state Department of Transportation grant money.

Middle Township Committee approved a resolution establishing a complete streets policy at a meeting Monday.

Road projects like construction, re-construction, re-paving and rehabilitation would be designed with pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers and others in mind.

Accommodations could include sidewalks; pedestrian signals; sidewalk bulb outs and crosswalks; street and sidewalk lighting improvements that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act; better access to transit stops and bus shelters; shared-use lanes, wide travel lanes or lanes for bicycles; bicycle parking and landscaping and street furniture.

Mayor Dan Lockwood said lighting and striping often help at intersections.

Not all road users would have to be accommodated in road improvements, said township planner Elizabeth Terenik.

Exceptions to the complete streets policy would be when non-motorized vehicles are prohibited by law; the project would cost too much when compared with the need and potential long-term use; when there is no current or future need; safety, funding and timing of the project; or the road project is routine maintenance, such as mowing, sweeping and surface treatments.

Lockwood said the policy is a review process, not a requirement.

The township Planning Board discussed a complete streets policy in the spring, according to Ternenik. Planning Board chairman Tony Anzelone could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning.

Having transportation improvements that are planned, designed and constructed to provide safe walking, bicycling, and transit use increases health and welfare of residents and visitors, according to the complete streets policy resolution.

The state Department of Transportation approved its own complete streets policy in December 2009. The DOT urges municipalities seeking money from local aid programs to adopt a similar policy.

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