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Ridge Traffic Task Force Could Report in Late March

School Board President Susan McGowan said at Monday's meeting that group is compiling several options.

A specially appointed task force made of school and township officials to examine potential solutions for relieving morning traffic at Ridge High School could come out with a report by late March, said school officials.

School Board President Susan McGowan, a member of the task force said at Monday's Board of Education meeting that the task force is at the point of compiling a report outlining "several" options.

"We we are going to report will be a variety of things," McGowan said. She said the options for solutions then will be presented to the public.

Schools Superintendent Nick Markarian said the report could be ready for a presentation by the second meeting in March, which is on the schedule for 7 p.m. on March 28 at the Performing Arts Center at Ridge High School.

The task force has been meeting regularly, and plans to meet again on Wednesday morning, McGowan said.

Although most of their meetings have not been public, the task force held an open forum in December to collect residents' input on suggested ways to relieve morning traffic jams and improve traffic flow on school days.

"We are going to look at the pros and cons of every option," Mayor Carolyn Gaziano, another member of the task force, said at that time.

The longstanding issue of traffic jams by the Ridge entrance at the intersection of South Finley Avenue and Lake Road came to a forefront last February, when the administration began diverting buses carrying Ridge students through Homestead Village to the parking lot at Cedar Hill Elementary School.

The rear entrance to the high school can be reached from the adjoining Cedar Hill school property.

Grove Road resident Andi Williams again told the task force in December that the situation is dangerous, especially since students and other neighbors walk along narrow streets in the morning. She said that snow could soon cover the sidewalks that do exist, forcing walkers into the street.

Buses traveling down the road toward the high school go fast, she said.

"It's going to take a accident or worse before it changes," Williams said of the bus routing through Homestead Village to Cedar Hill.

In the past, members of the Township Committee have opposed another suggestion to allow traffic to enter the high school campus one way through the municipal complex at 1 Collyer Lane. Instead, township officials have said that the school district should solve its own traffic problem on the school property, although access has already been granted through the township health department driveway off South Finley Avenue.

Speakers at the December forum looked unfavorably on plans along South Finley that would further impact homeowners living right near the high school.

Another Homestead Village resident, Christina Ehret, said did not favor another proposal for a "blackout" period during which only buses could enter the high school because she said that will only drive more private vehicles through the alternate entrance behind Cedar Hill.

Another South Finley Avenue resident, Parag Dhagat, said he would oppose a plan along South Finley that would lead to taking further property from immediate neighbors for a supposed solution included in a report from Dean and Dolan Traffic Engineers issued last June.

Gaziano said after the December meeting that the task force would again at the use of the municipal complex as one of the options.

Parag Dhagat February 12, 2013 at 10:58 PM
Has anybody from the local public been attending the joint task force meetings? As i recall, the officials had said that after that one meeting where input from the public was asked for, the public could attend the meetings thereafter.....just not comment and participate in the decision making process! Am i right or am i right....can someone please confirm that?!! where is the JTF meeting schedule being put up? and what time do they meet?
rescue February 13, 2013 at 12:15 PM
It has been a year and nothing has changed. The only other way cars can enter Ridge on BOE property is off of Finley and there is too much traffic there already. The township needs to take responsibility for approving the expansion of Ridge without a traffic solution and allow teachers and students need to enter the parking lots through the municipal complex. (If I am correct, that entrance was approved some time ago.) That property belongs to the tax payers and we should be able to use it. The congestion at Ridge is causing frustrated drivers to do dangerous things. The other day I saw someone passing about 20 cars that were waiting to take a right into Ridge. They drove down the middle of the road because they didn’t want to wait. This isn’t Washington, make it work before someone gets killed!
HG February 13, 2013 at 12:56 PM
"The township needs to take responsibility for approving the expansion of Ridge without a traffic solution..." The township had absolutely no say whatsoever in the expansion of Ridge High School. Under state law, the BOE is exempt from township oversight in construction matters. The police have repeatedly stated that using the municipal complex for traffic flow will hinder their abilities. To lay this at the feet of the township (rather than the BOE) disregards history.
Laura February 13, 2013 at 02:55 PM
What makes it any safer to have cars careening up the winding steep hill of the municipal complex, which is narrow and has no sidewalks and is used by many walkers and all the kids who park on Collyer Lane. Opening up a new access road across the field would only move the likelihood of an accident from one place to another.
n February 13, 2013 at 11:46 PM
One way traffic would have little to no effect on the abilities of the police to respond to emergencies. Plus when was the last time a patrol car responded to an emergency from HQ between 7:00-7:30am?
HG February 21, 2013 at 07:53 PM
n, With all due respect, that's the same thing people say when they put barbeque grills on fire escapes. We have dedicated emergency service entrances and exits because every once in a long while, we need that dedicated entrance or exit.
n February 21, 2013 at 10:55 PM
@hg, If that was the reason, not to let vehicles travel one way through on the gravel path, then they would've said so one year ago! But that isn't the reason and in fact if the path was improved, all the better for the police, fire & first aid squad to use if for that one rare instance they couldn't use the main entrance or the one from Cedar Hill School. If the emergency was that great, hell, they could just drive over the soccer field next to the town hall. So stop making excuses for them.

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