Landmark-proposed Traffic Signal Adjustment Could Prove Costly

Eric Keller, the developer's traffic engineer, said to reconstruct the traffic signal at Berdan Avenue and Plaza Road will cost between $180,000 and $200,000.

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Based on Keller's estimates, making a change to that outdated traffic signal will cost between $135,000 and $150,000.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.


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Harry June 12, 2012 at 05:14 PM
The biggest traffic bottleneck of all, in my opinion, is the intersection where River Road, Maple Ave., and Wagaraw Road come together. That one REALLY needs left-turn green arrows. The traffic backs up so much that sometimes you simply cannot make a left turn before the light turns back to red unless you are the lead car and stop in the middle of the intersection so you have to complete the turn after the light becomes red so as not to block traffic. Visit it sometime. It's horrendous.
Phil Kestenbaum June 12, 2012 at 07:01 PM
It is obvious that this project is too much for the town to handle. This is just a tragedy for the residents of Fair Lawn who will pay for all of this with higher taxes, less services, additional traffic accidents, and degraded quality of life. Radburn Association will pay nothing, the developer will pay not one cent more or they will go to their friendly court again.
apalooza design June 12, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Agreed ^
Tommy P June 12, 2012 at 07:11 PM
This just in, Radburn residents are Fair Lawn residents and we pay taxes here too. We even had the "privileged" on funding both sides of the court cases.
durrrr June 12, 2012 at 07:33 PM
hes talking about the radburn association, the few members on the board who approved this awful idea- not the residents. jeez youd think with all the time you spend on this site youd comprehend comments a bit better
durrrr June 12, 2012 at 07:40 PM
tommy- while blaming the current and past council can we blame you? you seem to have all the answers (at least you think so) so dont you think you are doing the borough of fair lawn a dis-service by not running for council where you can actually put your ideas into action. i may put some of the blame on the curent and past council but i am going to put the majority on you. at least coucil members put themselves in posistions to make changes- you (the man with all the answers) just comments on patch articles and than complains. you not running for council would be like picasso refusing to paint
Walter Weglein June 12, 2012 at 07:46 PM
The Fair Lawn Traffic Director estimates the cost of a new light at Berdan and Plaza at $200,000. Keller of Landmark says they would be willing to pick up $2,000 to $4,000 of the cost!!
es June 12, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Is anyone else starting to understand why every $1 in new rateables costs a fully-built town like Fair Lawn more than is received?
Jenne June 12, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Why should those of us who live elsewhere in Fair Lawn be paying for improvements to Radburn, anyway? Let the Radburn association pay to improve access to their private pool.
Jenne June 12, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Radburn residents benefited from the profit the development association took in selling the land. Therefore, it's a Radburn problem. Radburn residents hate to pay for anything the rest of us use, why should we pay for decisions their precious board made?
Jenne June 12, 2012 at 08:29 PM
You notice that every individual change or update in this town is estimated to cost around $200,000? Doesn't matter whether it's updating a light (when did the town plan to replace that light, if it's so old that it will fall apart if you open it up?) Library Roof, township building air conditioning, replace a flood trailer, replace an outdated traffic light... is there anything out there that isn't being bid out at $200,000?
Tommy P June 12, 2012 at 10:35 PM
I don't have all the answers, but I when I see stupid things I will call them out. If our government operated the way I advocat the average household would save a couple of thousand dollars a year. There is no obligation on the part of any resident to serve, I am not interested in running for office. This is not the only project being considered, look at the master plan, they are planning other "Landmarks" on 208, it's likely to happen again. Deputy Mayor Trawinski is land use attorney, I have searched the minutes, he hasn't gone on record to change the ordinance referenced in the article or any other that I could find to mitigate these sorts of issues. We know Deputy Mayor Cosgrove reads comments on the Patch, the others have comment during election season. They choose to pander instead of tackling real issues and we get the bill, regardless of party. I have been vocal here and elsewhere, others have stood up and brought "my" ideas to the council. I'd like to think I had a small part in ending the expansion of the Metzler taxes. I'd like to think a few of those who stood at the Mayor and Council meetings were encouraged by me.
Tommy P June 12, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Jenne did you object to Radburn paying taxes on that land? We pay taxes on other land we own in common too.
Have the T-shirt June 12, 2012 at 11:02 PM
If the council amends the ordinance prior to a final vote the new one applies to this project.
Tommy P June 12, 2012 at 11:06 PM
The project already has a builder's remedy. The judge will not allow that to fly.
Deleted because of harassment June 13, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Good luck using the builder's remedy to wiggle out of paying for the light if the ordinance is amended before the project is approved. No sympathy whatsoever for the Radburn Association who got the money up front and is going to force us to pay for the results, and fund their mismanagement of the past, too.
Jack Gain June 13, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Wouldn't the ordinance go into effect for new applicants? Since the application is already in process, wouldn't it be too late for Landmark?
Have the T-shirt June 13, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Well, that depends on the date of the application, which I believe was years ago. An interesting legal question as the application came back to town on appeal for a builder's remedy. The law used to be called the "time of decision rule" that meant whatever local ordinance applied when a vote was taken was law. Last year I think Christie signed a pro-builder's law that killed the old time of decision rule. But I think the change only applies to applications filed after the law went into effect. This is an old and moldy application. Which means Fair Lawn, now governed by the Rs who said they were so much against this plan, can actually still make new laws and still have them apply to the site plan. Ganz's ordinance for off site contributions was crap. Have fun with it Ms. Mayor. Ask Ronny if I'm right or not.
es June 13, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Radburn Association has not closed the deal on Daly Field, so they haven't been paid yet, or so we've heard.
dn June 13, 2012 at 01:37 PM
No money has changed hands yet.
Phil Kestenbaum June 13, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Jenne, Radburn residents don't want this project as it is proposed. The original plan called for single homes, this would present far less traffic problems than the plan on the table.
Phil Kestenbaum June 13, 2012 at 01:47 PM
"But I think the change only applies to applications filed after the law went into effect." How can we find out for sure?
Walter Weglein June 13, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Trawinski is the expert on all things legal in land use...
The Most Interesting Man in the World June 14, 2012 at 01:18 PM
I hesitate to ask where you pulled that fact from and did you know that only 14% of humans and 2% of the dolphin population actually intellectualize that 85% of statistics are made up on the spot, lol!
Jerry Greeenwood June 14, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Why should Radburn pay for a Fair Lawn traffic light.From the 165 units built the borough of Fair Lawn will receive approximately $1,000,000.00 a year in taxes.That should cover schooling and traffic lights.
Stuart Pace June 14, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Phil, you state Radburn resident don't want this development as it is proposed. I know many who do.
Deleted because of harassment June 14, 2012 at 10:56 PM
165 townhomes generating $1,000,000 a year in taxes for the town? I guess Jerry's math is probably his strong point [irony]. That comes to $6060, a piece, give or take a few dollars. At the 2011 assessment rate, they'd have to be valued at $500,000. each or more for the town to have that kind of a windfall, remembering that a portion of property taxes goes elsewhere, as well; and in return Fair Lawn will provide sewer lines, street lighting, garbage pickup, water lines and metering, fire and police protection, schools, recreation, public works services such as plowing, cleaning and maintenance for the residents of those 165 tenements. Those units that are classified as "affordable" (which is really "less unaffordable") have a lesser worth and have been segregated next to the train tracks, so their net value is going to be considerable less in that assessment for taxes. I am sure all your Radburn neighbors will be happy to pay for the difference in their property taxes to cover all those services; after all, the Association, I am certain, will be lowering your assessment because of their windfall by instantly adding 165 new families to their roles...It's just the rest of us that will be scr3w3d.
Phil Kestenbaum June 15, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Stuart then why didn't/don't they take a vote of the home owners in Radburn? You want to organize a vote I will help you. Let's at least know what the people affected want.
Jenne June 15, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Radburn residents via their association are getting something for this (the profit on the land, AND the association not having to pay whatever miniscule tax they paid for undeveloped land) while everyone in fair lawn has to pony up to provide services to back it up. If Radburn residents didn't object to the funding of things available to the entire township because they fund their own, I might have sympathy. But as long as I live in Fair Lawn proper (aka the wrong side of the tracks) I don't. Let their part of the taxes pay for the stoplight, etc.
Stuart Pace June 15, 2012 at 05:01 PM
No thanks Phil. I like the way Radburn is run.


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