Lettiere Announces First
Impact Team Review
Route 1 Corridor Studied, Improvements Slated
(Trenton) - Building on the momentum of Governor McGreevey's "Safety First" initiative and recently introduced highway safety legislation, Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere announced today the completion of a safety review of a 10-mile stretch of Route 1, one of 13 designated "Safe Corridors" in New Jersey.
A Safety Impact Team, comprised of individuals with various backgrounds and expertise from the NJDOT, NJTransit, the Federal Highway Administration, state and local law enforcement, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, visited the corridor this week.
"The progress we've made this week is another milestone achieved for Governor McGreevey's 'Safety First' initiative," said Lettiere. "More than 700 people died in motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey last year, which is unacceptable. With safety impact teams, we are going to make New Jersey's roadways safer - highway by highway, intersection by intersection."
Lettiere, joined by the Safety Impact Team and representatives of state and local law enforcement, outlined the Team's first-in-the-nation review process and unveiled several short-term safety fixes that will be undertaken prior the release of a full report with comprehensive improvements. The review is the first in a series that will be conducted on the most dangerous stretches of highway in the state.
In November 2002, Governor McGreevey announced his "Safety First" initiative, which combines $20 million in highway improvements over the next five years, with stricter police enforcement, increased fines for unsafe equipment and hazardous driving, and enhanced driver education for all motorists.
"Safety First" includes the proposed identification of 13 state highways as potential "Safe Corridors." Legislation would allow NJDOT to establish the double fine areas on the most dangerous sections of those roadways. Today, the New Jersey General Assembly will vote on legislation (A3527) to expand highway safety throughout New Jersey. The State Senate is currently reviewing companion legislation, S2456.
The legislation would also dedicate fines collected in "Safe Corridors" to state and local law enforcement agencies. Once crash rates recede, NJDOT would remove the double fines.
On May 19, the Safety Impact Team concentrated on Route 1 between Franklin Corner Road in Lawrence Township and Ridge Road in South Brunswick. Identified as a traffic "hotspot," more than 677,000 vehicles traveled through the area daily in 2002. Nearly 1,400 accidents occurred there in the last two years.
Lettiere and members of the Safety Impact Team briefed reporters on their findings Tuesday at NJDOT Headquarters in Trenton.
"New Jersey's Safety Impact Teams are an innovative method to address highway safety improvements," said Dennis Merida, New Jersey Division Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. "By incorporating the 'three Es,' engineering, education and enforcement, into the process, every facet of safety along the high priority corridors can be fully addressed."
A representative of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration praised Lettiere for developing the concept of Safety Impact Teams.
"We believe this safety inspection process will set a national standard," said Thomas Louizou, Regional Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Through the cooperation of various agencies and individuals with a variety of expertise, New Jersey has established a model program that can be used to improve highway safety throughout the United States."
A full report with detailed findings and short- and long-term recommendations will be released within the next two months. An interim plan to be executed immediately calls for improving signal timing for cars and pedestrians at intersections, a full review of all directional signs along the highway, acceleration of scheduling for pavement resurfacing projects and exploring the establishment of a driver safety partnership with the business community.