Residents Challenge Landmark Developer's Sight Distance Calculations at Crosswalk
During Monday's Planning Board hearing on the Daly Field development, a number of residents questioned the safety of a crosswalk proposed at the intersection of Plaza Road and Ramsey Terrace.
The planning board engineer will attempt to corroborate the Landmark-provided sight distance from an obstructed curve on Plaza Road after residents challenged the legitimacy of the developer’s numbers at Monday’s public hearing on traffic concerns related to the controversial Daly Field development.
Landmark’s traffic engineer, Eric Keller, testified Monday that the current sight distance for southbound Plaza Road drivers as they approach the proposed crosswalk at Ramsey Terrace is 25 feet shorter than what’s required, but asserted that it would meet code if a patch of underbrush that obstructs the sight line is removed.
“There are some large trees there, but if you move up a foot or move back a foot you can find a path through those trees,” he said. “The problem is that there is young growth, and just underbrush that has occurred in the right of way, in the middle of this curve, that’s blocking your ability to see through that area.”
Following the testimony by Keller, who assured the board that the borough itself could resolve the vegetation issue, board liaison Ed Trawinski requested that a letter be sent to the borough engineer and borough council asking them to initiate the necessary undergrowth removal.
Regardless of the proposed vegetation cleanup, multiple residents expressed concerns about the safety of crossing Plaza at Ramsey Terrace and challenged Keller’s calculations. Ramapo Terrace resident Ron Coll, who provided photographic evidence to support his claims, said that by his own count the unobstructed sight distance at the proposed Ramsey crosswalk was no more than 150 feet – less than half the required 305 feet dictated by Plaza Road’s speed limit.
Pressed by Coll whether the borough had independently verified Keller’s figures, planning board engineer Jeff Morris indicated that it had not, but asserted that he would personally corroborate the numbers before next month’s hearing.
The proposed crosswalk at the intersection of Plaza Road and Ramsey Terrace – a location that will serve as one of the two proposed entrances to the Landmark development – has been the most hotly debated topic at the past two hearings.
“You cannot tell me that it’s safe to cross Plaza Road at Ramsey,” planning board member Todd Malkin said last month. “You have a bad curve and people speeding there. The solution would be a light.”
Keller explained to board members and residents last month that traffic at the intersection did not meet the requirements to warrant a traffic signal, but agreed, at the request of planning board members, to calculate the sight distance and consider other safety-enhancing alternatives.
He presented his site distance calculations and recommended some additional safety measures Monday, including giving the crosswalk a prominent ladder-style design, installing fluorescent yellow-green pedestrian crossing signs in advance of the crosswalk from either direction, installing small arrow signs on the crosswalk’s center line strip in either direction and narrowing the width of the road’s pavement at the crosswalk by about five feet on either side to reduce pedestrian crossing times by more than 20 percent.
Keller also reiterated his recommendation to place the crosswalk on the road’s south side.
“The critical point is standing on the southeast corner of Ramsey and Plaza Road and being able to look back and see approaching vehicles, and also for approaching vehicles to see a pedestrian standing there,” he said, adding that they had measured 305 feet of sight distance from the curb line. “There is sufficient time for a vehicle, if they see a person standing at that corner step off, for them to stop before they hit the pedestrian.”
Placing the crosswalk on the north side of the intersection, Keller said, would offer less sight distance because of the curve in the road and the obstructing vegetation.
At the request of Trawinski and planning board chairman Peter Kortright, Keller also agreed to investigate two other potential safety-enhancing options – speed tables on Plaza Road between Berdan Avenue and Fair Lawn Avenue, and higher-intensity street lighting to better illuminate the Ramsey Terrace crosswalk at night.
“Safety is the number one issue,” Kortright told Keller. “How you get there? You need to get there. Whether it’s speed tables, lighting, warning systems, ADA ramps. A number of things need to be looked at to ensure the safety of residents crossing Plaza. We don’t need additional liabilities.”
Landmark's next hearing before the planning board is scheduled for Monday, July 9 at 7:30 p.m.