Improving the safety and efficiency of the Plaza Road and Berdan Avenue intersection via traffic signal replacement will not come cheaply, Landmark traffic engineer Eric Keller reported to the Monday.
Based on Keller's estimates, making a change to that outdated traffic signal will cost between $135,000 and $150,000. Throw in the requirement that making a traffic signal improvement would also necessitate making an upgrade to the intersection's sidewalks and curb ramps -- which are not up to today's Americans with Disabilities Act standards -- and the total price tag jumps to between $180,000 and $200,000.
Keller said calculating Landmark's fair cost share based on the borough's ordinance for off-track improvements -- which derives the applicant's share of the cost according to the anticipated traffic increase generated by the development -- the developer's contribution to the traffic signal upgrade would amount to less than $5,000.
"That is a pitiful amount," Planning Board chairman Peter Kortright said. "We’re looking for an investment. Something where at least there is some sort of partnership with the borough...$4,000 doesn’t seem like it’s going to do anything."
Kortright acknowledged that the calculations were made in compliance with the borough's ordinance, but asked that the developer re-examine the issue and try to find a way to increase the financial share it would cover.
The developer's representative said they would take it into consideration, but that at this time, they were not inclined to cover a greater share of the cost.
that, rather than replacing the traffic signal, it would be possible to improve the intersection's efficiency by adjusting the amount of green time through some minor tinkering.
However, Kortright expressed skepticism that adjusting the signal would be possible, asserting that simply tinkering with the timing would not work given the age of the intersection’s traffic signal.
“You can open that box and it’ll probably collapse,” he said. “It’s a very old signal.”
As an alternative to adjusting the signal's timing, board members suggested last month that Keller examine a variety of other alternatives, including adding a leading green left-hand turn arrow at the intersection.
Keller agreed to model a number of alternatives for the intersection and report his findings at this month's hearing.
Keller presented four options Monday, all of which involved installing leading greens that would necessitate replacing the dated signal.
"The existing signal that’s there doesn’t work with today’s standards," he said. "If you touch it to put in a left turn indication for the northbound left, essentially you’re opening yourself up to needing to replace the entire signal to get those indications in the proper locations. The controller that’s there today can’t handle anything more than what’s already there."
Upon analyzing each of the four possible traffic signal configurations, Keller concluded that the superior option of the four -- because it yielded the best all around levels of service for each approach to the intersection -- was placing an exclusive left turn lane and leading green for northbound Plaza Road traffic turning onto the Route 208 ramp.
Installing leading greens at three of the four approaches -- all but the southbound approach -- and installing leading greens at all four approaches were both slightly less efficient than installing just a single northbound leading green, Keller said.
The worst option of the four, which Keller said would actually decrease the overall efficiency of the intersection as it exists today, would be to add a southbound leading green -- in conjunction with a northbound leading green -- for traffic making its way down Plaza before turning onto Berdan.
If the signal is not reconfigured in some way, traffic generated by the proposed Landmark development is expected to cause the northbound Plaza Road left turn at Berdan Avenue to drop below a failing service level.
Landmark's next hearing before the planning board is scheduled for Monday, July 9 at 7:30 p.m.