Route 130 Under Heavy Legislation
June 28, 2018
Route 130 is a road in southern New Jersey that runs from Pennsville Township in Salem County to North Brunswick in Middlesex County. Many are familiar with a significant stretch in Burlington County that is very hazardous to pedestrians. People often need to cross the busy section to reach business establishments or a bus stop located some distance away from the nearest traffic signal.
The combination of heavy traffic moving at high speeds and high pedestrian traffic make the Burlington section of the road particularly dangerous. There are no crosswalks, protected bike lanes, or sidewalks in the corridor. That is why it has been ranked as the most fatal road in the state for pedestrians for six straight years by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit organization that supports equitable, safe, multi-modal transportation in three states. The organization ranks roads according to pedestrian fatalities.
Two schools, Burlington City High School and Wilbur Watts Intermediate School, are close to Route 130. Students frequently cross the busy highway to get to restaurants across the street for lunch or to walk home from school. A few years ago, tragedy struck when a high school student walking along the road while coming home from school was hit by a car.
Several changes have been made over the years to improve safety. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) has improved signage and traffic signals along the Route 130 corridor. It has also reduced travel lanes, called a road diet, between East Federal and Wood streets in Burlington City, which is designed to lower traffic speed.
Other efforts include increased funding by the DOT for more enforcement efforts by local police. Also, the normal speed limit of 40 miles per hour is reduced to 25 miles per hour from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. to protect school children. Officials say safety has improved, but pedestrians are still getting struck in the corridor.
Proposed Legislation Gets Traction
Inspired to prevent further fatalities, Burlington City student activists have lobbied their legislators to permanently reduce the speed limit near their schools. The legislators from the area have responded and spent years trying to advance legislation that would permanently reduce the speed limit on the city’s stretch of the road.
Recently, the New Jersey Senate voted to approve legislation that would reduce the speed limit near the two Burlington City schools to 25 miles per hour. It would also triple fines for speeding in the school zone. The primary sponsor of the bill acknowledged the advocacy of the students and his predecessor in a statement about the bill. Identical versions of the bill will need to pass both houses of legislature and be signed by the Governor before it can become law.
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