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Letter To The Editor: Crossroads Traffic Pattern 'Inadequate And Dangerous'

Resident sent letter and interactive map to state Department of Transportation citing concerns about shopping center traffic

Dear Editor,

I feel strongly that no one should be allowed to make a profit at the expense of other people's health and safety. My primary concerns with the Crossroads mall proposal have been wondering what toxins will be released into our air and water when the contaminated soil is disturbed by construction, and how many people will be injured or killed due to increased traffic volume (33% according to the developer) and unsafe access to and from the proposed mall.

After studying the developer's traffic plans I wrote the following letter to the NJ Dept of Transportation detailing dangers of their plans. Even if traffic volume remained exactly what it currently is the proposed mall access would still put drivers at risk.

It was . I hope so. Would you really want your teenagers driving to the mall in the proposed traffic configurations?

The following letter was submitted to the NJDOT.

Mr. Richard Dube, Manager

Major Access Permits

State of New Jersey

Dept. of Transportation

Re: Crossroads Town Center proposed development in Mahwah, NJ

       at interchange of Rt 17, I-287, I-87

Dear Mr. Dube:

I am writing to urge you and others to take a really hard look at the developer’s plans for access to and from their proposed shopping mall at the Crossroads.

The access proposal is inadequate and dangerous. This part of the highway is already a confused mess. I am very concerned for the safety of frequent drivers and those unfamiliar with the area. I think the proposed access plans from both the north and south set up hazardous conditions that will be lethal. The plans recreate the older more dangerous cloverleaf pattern of entering and exiting traffic interweaving in too short a space, while traveling at high speeds or needing to accelerate quickly.

As you can see on the map, reading north to south from NY into NJ:

http://goo.gl/maps/aAht 

  • From the north and east Routes I-87S and I-287W merge at high speeds 
  • In 0.2 mile more traffic merges in from the right, a loop from I-287E & Rt 17N
  • A brief 0.4 mile straight stretch where drivers of trucks and cars are changing lanes, readying (when they are aware of it) for where the highway forks to become Rt 17S and I-287W    
  • In about 0.2 mile the proposed circular on-ramp from the proposed mall would put traffic onto a blind curve of 17S
  • In 0.2 mile would be the proposed mall entrance from Rt 17S; currently it is primarily an entrance/exit to a large truck stop and Mahwah’s Stag Hill section.

I want to expand on these summary points:

From the north, driving this section of road is like navigating rapids at 65-75 mph. In the space of 0.8 mile traffic merges from I-87S, I-287W, I-287E and Rt 17N. Then trucks and cars change lanes to position themselves for either the right or left fork. I have seen many vehicles speed from the far left lane to the right fork. The left fork to Rt 17S curves and is dark because of two overpasses. Then, just when a driver might be able to relax, the developer proposes a new on-ramp followed in 0.2 mile by a mall/truck stop off-ramp, where trucks slowly come in and out.

For access from the shopping mall onto Rt 17S they are proposing a circular ramp located between Mountainside Ave and exit 66 off of I-287E.  This is a short narrow spot of land which will allow for only a tight circle. The danger is that this circular ramp will dump traffic onto a curve of Rt 17S which is not particularly visible until you are on top of it. Traffic in this spot tends to be speeding and changing lanes.

The proposed mall/truck stop access from Rt 17S is an exit 0.2 mile past that proposed curving on-ramp. The intersection of homebound shoppers entering Rt 17S and those exiting will require more lane changing on this 0.2 mile piece.

  • The developer states the distance between the entrance and exit on/off Rt 17S meets DOT footage requirements. But wouldn’t those requirements be more appropriate for straight roads with good visibility and calm traffic?
  • I think this stretch of curved road with jockeying traffic should be treated as dangerous, requiring unique guidelines that promote the safety of those of us who drive there.

Accessing the mall from Rt 17N at Leisure Lane requires an almost immediate left onto Cross Road towards Mountainside/Orient Way. The road segment is only about 500 feet long. Even with the proposed additional lane on Cross Road, traffic will back up out onto Rt 17N. Compare that 500 feet with the length of the multiple entry lanes for Woodbury Common mall [about the same square footage as this proposed mall when including the existing hotel and planned recreation] where multiple lanes of traffic can back up through the toll booths. Also, busses enter and exit the Leisure Line Bus Depot here.

This exit is the only access to the Stag Hill section of Mahwah and is already clogged at certain times of the day. Residents have long complained of difficulty getting home. Individuals from both EMT and police have expressed concern at public meetings at their ability to provide emergency services to the Stag Hill area due to the traffic. Currently emergency vehicles can use the shoulder, but the developer is suggesting annexing the shoulder as an additional access lane, leaving no emergency lane. This emergency lane is important because there are times when Rt. 17N is heavily congested and slow moving. Furthermore, at exactly this spot, trucks and cars are merging onto Rt. 17N from a large well-patronized “last gas station in NJ.” Currently vehicles use the shoulder to facilitate the merge, but it is an abrupt merge even for cars. Trucks are forced to swing wide, often across two lanes of traffic. This situation, treacherous in itself, is compounded by the fact that Crossroads and Stag Hill-bound traffic must exit immediately following the merge from the gas station. It truly is a dangerous situation now. What would it be with no shoulder or dedicated merge lane, and given the increased traffic?

An additional consideration is that this corridor is part of the official escape route from Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. Increased traffic and dangerous entrances and exits will not help an evacuation.

I am describing current problems that will only be increased if the access plans are approved. The developer estimates that the proposed mall will result in a 33% increase in traffic. That can only be deadly.

I suggest that prior to any approvals you send technical specialists to visit the site and evaluate the risks of the situation. I and other residents are very concerned about our safety. Then, of course, I hope that you would see fit to deny approval.

 

Yours truly,

Lynne K McLewin

Mahwah, NJ

Richard Levine July 12, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Why is the mall a toxic timebomb?
Roger Pachiderm July 12, 2012 at 12:35 PM
If Indian Point is melting down who exactly will be going shopping?
Andy Schmidt July 12, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Agreed Hank! This was a well thought-out argument (whether one agrees on each item or not) - but people just don't know how to quit when they're ahead. Adding that last paragraph pushes it from rational to irrational (at least in the eyes of THIS reader).
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