Essex County held a press conference at the intersection of Bloomfield and Roseland/Westville avenues Friday to welcome a new era for Caldwell's busiest intersection.
Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. announced that the $400,000 project which began in April was completed this week. The work was paid for by a safety grant from the federal government through the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Gordon Meth, director of engineering for the RBA Group, designed the configuration. Meth described some of the highlights of the project to the media and residents in attendance. "The big challenge we had here was improving mobility to and from Westville," Meth said.
He said the intersection was made safer for drivers and pedestrians by adding a traffic signal as well as pedestrian signals equipped with countdowns that alert individuals as to how much time they have to cross safely.
Other major changes include a light that can be controlled from the firehouse to make it easier and safer for trucks to exit and enter, a right turn only lane on Bloomfield Avenue onto Forest Avenue, and modern traffic signals with light emitting diodes (LED) lenses which use 90 percent less energy, last longer and are more visible during inclement weather.
A video detection system was also installed to monitor the cars and help regulate the flow of traffic. If the cameras detect no oncoming traffic, the lights will remain green so motor vehicles are not stopped and idling unnecessarily.
"We did all that and managed to keep traffic working on Bloomfield Avenue—not an easy accomplishment," Meth said.
The changes and upgrades were designed to improve the safety and flow of traffic through an area which sees an estimated 30,000 vehicles pass through daily.
"This project is part of our ongoing initiative to modernize our infrastructure to ensure it meets current traffic demands,” DiVincenzo stated in a release. "The number of people and cars passing through this area is extraordinary and these upgrades are necessary to make sure pedestrians and cars continue to pass through here safely."
In the four years since the county and the borough began talks to improve the traffic flow through downtown Caldwell there has been nearly 100 accidents at these intersections, according to the county. Westville and Roseland was the site of a late last year.
Caldwell Councilman Douglas Piazza said, "This overhaul for this intersection, I think it's a longtime coming."
The councilman said he has heard mostly positive feedback with the exception of some timing issues which were reported earlier in the week which he said have since been resolved.
Piazza said the only unfortunate aspect of the project are the parking spaces which were eliminated in front of the and the Green. The councilman said the borough is looking at ways of gaining spaces in other parts of town to help compensate.
DiVincenzo said the county will continue to analyze the traffic patterns and make adjustments where needed.
"There is going to be tweaks that are going to have to be made as we go through," DiVincenzo said. He said drivers could call his office at 973-621-4400 with concerns and suggestions.
Caldwell resident Robert Markman said he is grateful for the improvements, particularly since he is a customer of the located at the corner of Roseland and Westville.
Markman said Friday he was able to access and exit the bank more easily this week.
"For those who are pessimistic on the economy, this is truly our tax dollars at work," Markman said.
According to Piazza, a crossing guard will still be stationed at the intersection of Westville and Roseland during the school year even though the intersection now has a signal.
This is the third road project completed by the county this week. Other projects were in and .