Work underway on Hope Corson, Rt. 50 traffic signal

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Mayor Richard Palombo and state Sen. Jeff Van Drew talk with Michelle Johnson, of the Upper Township tax assessor’s office, about restriping a section of Rt. 50 near Township Hall. Mayor Richard Palombo and state Sen. Jeff Van Drew talk with Michelle Johnson, of the Upper Township tax assessor’s office, about relining a section of Rt. 50 near Township Hall.

Rt. 50 in Petersburg also being restriped to stop passing cars


By COLUMB HIGGINS
Staff Writer
GREENFIELD – State contractors have begun work to install a long sought traffic signal at the intersection of Rt. 50 and Hope Corson Road.

Crews were at the intersection Monday preparing to put in underground electrical wiring. Township engineer Paul Dietrich said two separate contractors will later install the poles and signal and repave the intersection.
Work is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, according to officials.
“This has been one of those things we’ve struggled with for years and years,” said Mayor Richard Palombo. “It took time but it’s really paid off.”
The “T” intersection of Rt. 50 and Hope Corson Road has been a problem area for years. The sightlines of the intersection, combined with heavy traffic from nearby businesses, have contributed to a number of serious accidents and near misses.
State Sen. Jeff Van Drew credited township officials and New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner James Simpson for pushing the project forward.
The traffic signal was initially approved in February but the project was removed from the Rt. 50 repaving contract in March. The signal was again delayed in June when different departments in the NJDOT hade to complete design work.
Van Drew said the delay was because of an internal reorganization at NJDOT, but Simpson made the traffic signal a priority.
“The commissioner made it a priority and got it done,” he said. “A lot of thanks goes to him.”
The traffic signal at the intersection of Rt. 50 and Hope Corson Road has gotten a lot of mixed signals over the years.
In 2004, the NJDOT approved a traffic signal there but county officials requested that a separate left hand turn lane be added to Rt. 50 southbound. The concern was limited site distance and a quick drop in speed from 50 mph to 45 mph for vehicles traveling southbound on Rt. 50. Vehicles come around a curve in the road on Rt. 50 and there would be the potential for backups at the intersection.
The state considered the road too small for a left hand turn lane but NJDOT eventually agreed to the county’s request.
Another problem arose this year when an agreement between the state and county on who would pay to operate the traffic signal lapsed. The county ultimately agreed to pay the cost of electricity.
Rt. 50 is a state road and Hope Corson is a county road, meaning both entities have to sign off on improvements.
Dietrich said plans for the intersection call for two left hand turn lanes on Rt. 50, one allowing traffic traveling south on Rt. 50 to turn onto Hope Corson Road and the other allowing northbound traffic to turn into the shopping center across from the Wawa.
Van Drew met Tuesday with township officials and county engineer Dale Foster to discuss other road improvements in Upper Township. At the top of the list was restriping a section of Rt. 50 in Petersburg near the Upper Township Rescue Squad building, the library and Township Hall.
Michelle Johnson, who works in the township’s tax assessor office, requested restriping of Rt. 50 there to prevent cars from passing after she was almost hit when leaving work several weeks ago. The section of road in front of Township Hall currently has a dotted line down the middle, meaning cars can pass.
“I pulled out onto Rt. 50 and the car came so close I could see the driver’s whiskers,” she said. “Even if you’re paying attention, you can’t anticipate someone passing another car and coming into your lane.”
Palombo said traffic on Rt. 50 has increased over the years. Drivers don’t realize there are many driveways and township buildings in the area, he said.
“There’s a huge amount of traffic at the school during the school year,” said Palombo.
Committeeman Jay Newman, who oversees public safety as part of his duties on the township committee, said it will be safer for rescue squad ambulances pulling out onto Rt. 50 with no passing.
Van Drew and Foster said the restriping would be done soon. Of more difficulty, however, would be restriping a section of Rt. 9 near Osprey Point in Seaville.
Residents at the over-55 development have asked for a solid center line on Rt. 9 so passing cars won’t cause an accident as they enter and exit, said Van Drew. Rt. 9 has a curve nearby so sightlines are very limited, he added.
The state has not seen the need to restripe the road yet, he said.
“It’s a frustrating process,” said Van Drew. “If time and experience dictates you need to make a change we need to take that seriously. There almost has to be a tragedy for there to be a change sometimes.
“I think we will be able to get around it,” added Van Drew. “Seniors are going in and out there. You have a curve in the road. The commissioner has been very willing to walk the streets with me so I think he’ll see the need.”


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