Committee joins with Fire District in call for ‘rumble strip’ on Route 47

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CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – Three fatalities this year on Route 47 has led Township Committee to join with Fire District Number 1 to renew a district call to the state to make the road safer for motorists.

Committeeman Michael Clark, also a volunteer firefighter and president of county Firemen’s Association, said that in 2006, the district and Volunteer Fire Company Number 1 petitioned Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew to intercede with the state Department of Transportation to add a “rumble strip” down the center of the highway.

During the work session, which preceded the committee’s regular meeting on Monday, May 20, Clark said it’s possible that the latest death on Route 47 may have been prevented by the strip.

 “The last accident was someone who fell asleep while driving,” Clark said. “A rumble strip may have saved her passenger.”

Earlier this month, a Gloucester County woman was killed on impact after the Ford Taurus driven by her friend drifted off the roadway and struck a tree.

In April, two people were killed, and two injured in a high speed collision on Route 47, south of the Wildwood Water Works bend.

Mayor Tim Donohue and Committeeman Dan Lockwood agreed that changes need to be made on the state road, and said that the committee will join the district in its call on Van Drew, now a state Senator, to facilitate the work on the road.

The committee also plans to seek the support of the county freeholders in their petition to the assemblyman.

The district’s 2006 letter to Van Drew will be updated, Clark said, but this year’s request for action will be essentially the same as eight years ago. The letter is reprinted below:

Dear Assemblyman Van Drew:

Time has come for all of us to look at a condition which is taking placed all too frequently on one of our local state highways – namely State Highway 47, otherwise known as the Delsea Drive.

Almost weekly, we read in the local newspapers about head-on collisions or single-car crashes, many of which involve fatalities.

Our Fire Company has responded to more emergency calls on this stretch of highway than ever before.

We all know that we will never live to see the completion of a limited access highway such as the Garden State Parkway or the completion of Route 55 to Cape May County, under the current environmental guidelines and rules.

Until then we cannot just stand by and continue to court the loss of lives and injuries.

I would like you to think outside the box and explore the use of a relatively inexpensive deterrent to all of this carnage.

Why can’t the state Highway Department create a one-foot wide “rumble strip” down the center of the highway? It only needs to be the width of the present two yellow stripes separating the lanes. A strip of this type would not impede the passing of slower vehicles, but could possibly give the “cowboy” pause from making an unnecessary pass.

Most of the accidents are caused by the drifting of vehicles across into the oncoming traffic. There are drivers who may be under the influence of a foreign substance, or just plain fall asleep. If they cross the “rumble strip,” I am sure they would regain their concentration immediately, and possibly avoid drifting into the oncoming lane.

We would appreciate your feelings in reference to this suggestion.

In an interview Tuesday, Van Drew said that the state has been working on Route 47 for years, but it still has not done everything he’d like to see on the state road.

“When I’m in receipt of that letter, I will do my best to move the state bureaucracy,” he said.

Clark said that Van Drew has spearheaded improvements on Route 47 in the past, including facilitating no passing zones on the road.

“Some improvements have been made,” Clark said, “but there’s still more we can do to prevent fatalities.”



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