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Mayor of Mount Olive Township addresses dangers of driving on Route 46 and Route 206

MOUNT OLIVE TOWNSHIP, NJ (Morris County) – Joe Nicastro, Mayor of Mount Olive Township, took to Facebook last month to address the concerns he has been hearing from township residents regarding the dangers of driving on Route 46 and Route 206, particularly due to the increasing number of accidents.

“The main obstacle we’re facing is the difficulty in engaging with the state Department of Transportation (DOT), which has been unresponsive despite our months of outreach efforts. Despite enlisting the support of local assembly members, who have been responsive to me, they also have encountered the same lack of response from the DOT, we’ve struggled to make progress,” Nicastro said.

RNJ reached out to New Jersey Department of Transportation spokesperson Steve Schapiro and he said on Wednesday that, “NJDOT has been in communication with local elected officials and has set up a meeting with the mayor to discuss the town’s concerns for next week.”

“In the fall of 2023, the town requested a safety assessment of the corridor, which was completed. Mount Olive officials identified a specific safety concern at the signal of Route 46 and International Drive. Currently, left turns from International Drive southbound and northbound onto Route 46 take place at the same time, creating a potential conflict between turning vehicles,” Schapiro told RNJ. “As a part of an on-going NJDOT project, ADA North, Contract 1, adjustments will be made to the signal at International Drive to allow each direction of International Drive to have its own phase (known as a split phase) in which only one direction will have a green signal at a time. The project includes pedestrian safety improvements at the intersection with crosswalks and signal timing adjustments. Construction is expected to begin in the late spring, but we don’t have an exact date.”

However, the urgency of addressing traffic safety on the township’s highways cannot be overstated. With accidents becoming more frequent, we have limited options for mitigation, Nicastro said.

To address this, the Mount Olive Township Police Department will intensify patrols on the highways, and we’ll launch an educational campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of speeding, Nicastro said.

In prioritizing the safety of township residents, Nicastro propose the installation of additional traffic lights along Route 46 and Route 206 to regulate traffic flow.

“I will urge the Council to pass a resolution strongly recommending that the DOT add traffic lights on these routes, Nicastro said.

“Regarding the municipality’s interest in adding traffic signals, Mount Olive has not specified where they recommend new signals be added. That is the starting point to begin the process of seeing whether signals are warranted at that location,” Schapiro said.

These strategically placed lights will compel drivers to slow down or stop, preventing them from accelerating excessively between intersections. Additionally, implementing flashing lights and or signage in high-risk areas, such as around the lake, will alert drivers to hazardous conditions and promote safer driving practices, Nicastro said.

“If a municipality wants to add a traffic signal, it must be warranted per the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and based on an engineering assessment. NJDOT requires a 25 percent cost sharing commitment from the town for electrical construction based on operational needs,” Schapiro said.

“A new traffic signal costs approximately $300,000 so the municipality’s cost sharing commitment would be $75,000 per new traffic signal.  The cost sharing commitment is required before NJDOT begins the investigation on whether the signals are warranted.  Mount Olive would need to recommend the locations for the signals they would like, then commit to cost sharing for each one before the Department would start an investigation. If the town is requesting signal revisions to existing traffic signals, traffic signal revisions cost approximately $200,000 per location, so the municipality’s cost sharing commitment would be $50,000 per signal,” Schapiro said.

“Although the state may resist the installation of traffic lights, I remain committed to advocating for the safety of our residents. If necessary, the township will bear the financial burden of these lights, as the well-being of our community outweighs any cost considerations,” Nicastro said.

“I am 100% committed to finding a solution to help keep our residents safe,” Nicastro said.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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