Crossroads Traffic Redesign Questions How Shoppers Will Get In And Out
Latest version of the traffic plan for the 600,000 square foot shopping center is a response to board, resident concerns, developer says
A new proposal for the traffic configuration at the Crossroads shopping center development had members of the Mahwah Planning Board and the public question whether one entrance to the shopping center, or two, would be best.
Crossroads traffic expert Daniel Disario presented the latest iteration of the road improvement plan at the site of a proposed 600,000 square foot Crossroads Town Center shopping development at a public hearing Monday night. According to Disario, the changes proposed were in response to comments and concerns raised by the Planning Board, township engineering professionals and residents at previous public hearings.
The new plan calls for the main entrance to the proposed shopping center to move from Leisure Lane up to the Cross Road North exit off Route 17. The Cross Road exit would lead to a three-lane entrance and exit to and from the shopping center off Orient Way.
The change would disallow cars getting off at Leisure Lane from directly entering the shopping center. The entrance, Disario said, would potentially be cut off to shoppers via a gate that would only be open to emergency vehicles.
The change was designed to address concerns brought up by the board in August about how a Leisure Lane entrance to the shopping center would impact the existing gas station on Route 17 North and Coach bus station on Leisure Lane.
Disario also said the plan would decrease the amount of shopping traffic that would mix with residents attempting to use that exit to access homes in the Stag Hill and Ramapo Brae sections of the township, a concern that has been voiced by residents and board members throughout the public hearing.
Originally, Disario proposed allowing cars getting off at Leisure Lane to continue to the main entrance, but put signage up on Route 17 directing drivers up to the Cross Road exit.
Township traffic expert Judd Rocciola and some board members suggested closing the connection between Leisure Lane and Cross Road completely, via a curb or temporary closure, forcing all shopping traffic further up Route 17 North to the main entrance to access the center. Cars exiting onto Leisure Lane would only be ablw to make a u-turn via one or two dedicated turn lames to either get to Stag Hill Road or back onto 17 South.
However, Rocciola warned the board that the change could cause traffic back-ups in the event of an accident or other emergency at the main entrance.
If the roadway is closed off via a temporary gate, it could be opened to traffic with police traffic directors in that event, he said. Planners also noted that the Route 17 North ramp near the Sharp complex could be used to access the shopping center.
Disario said the developer would reconsider the new proposal to possibly incorporate the change, noting that the vast majority of traffic to the proposed site would be coming from the south. Only about 15 percent, he said, is expected to come from the north.
Disario also said a preliminary investigation into constructing a new loop off Mountainside Ave. to direct traffic exiting the shopping center back onto 17 South should be feasible to build. He anticipated the loop will cost about $400,000 to construct, though emphasized that was a very rough estimate.
Board members indicated they were pleased with some of the changes being considered, but that they believe there is still more work to be done on the off-site traffic improvement plan. Disario has been presenting the developing plan at Planning Board public hearings since March.
Planning Board Chair Todd Sherer commended the developer for being responsive to board comments at past hearings and incorporating adjustments to the traffic plan based on board comments.
“I’m getting more comfortable with access to the site, but I think we need to work a little bit more on getting out of it,” Sherer said after Monday night’s presentation. He asked Rocciola to examine the feasibility of exiting the site under the current proposed plan at “peak times on a Friday or Saturday night when the movies let out, the restaurants let out, the big box stores are closing and everyone is trying to leave at the same time.”
The developer emphasized that any changes presented to and potentially approved by the board would be subject to the state Department of Transportation, who has ultimate jurisdiction over road improvements made to the area.
The Crossroads hearing is expected to continue Dec. 17, though Crossroads attorney Jim Jaworski said he was unsure what the testimony that night would be about. Disario, who is expected to return to give testimony on the traffic plan at the interior of the proposed shopping center, said he could not make the Dec. 17 meeting.