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Hopewell Township Mayor provides traffic safety updates

MercerMe received the following report from Hopewell Township Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning on April 17:

The Hopewell Township Committee often hears from residents concerned about traffic safety. Safety is the number one priority for local government, and we take these traffic concerns seriously and understand the need for immediate action. On many roads in the Township, though, to get something done, we cannot act directly and must ask our Mercer County or State partners to take action.

Roads are designated as federal (Route 295), State (for example, Routes 29 and 31), County (for example, Route 579), or local (roads under the direct control of Hopewell Township). If there is a safety issue on a local road, the Township can take action on its own.

For example, last year residents spoke with us about pedestrian accidents and near misses at the crosswalk near the Hopewell Crossing Shopping Center on Denow Road. In response, the Township quickly instituted traffic calming measures, including adding rumble strips and more flashing lights. Because Denow is a local road, we did not need to coordinate with any other governmental body and could act quickly and directly.

When County or State roads are involved, on the other hand, action requires more steps and takes more time.  For example, Scotch Road (a local road) intersects with Pennington-Harbourton Road (a County road). Since 2019, there have been 10 crashes at Scotch Road and Pennington-Harbourton Road, including a tragic fatal motorcycle crash.  Because the intersection involves a County road, any safety improvements must be approved and implemented by Mercer County. At our February 20 meeting, the Hopewell Township Committee adopted a Resolution asking the County to conduct a thorough review of the traffic safety measures at this intersection. In addition, I personally reached out to the Mercer County Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, and he quickly began working with the County Engineer to come up with solutions. They also acted quickly; the County recently installed signs on Scotch Road [at the intersection of Pennington-Harbourton Rd] that read: “Cross Traffic Does Not Stop.” We are thankful that our partners in Mercer County Executive Dan Benson’s administration took such quick action, and we will keep in touch with them to see if this solution is effective, or if more is needed. The Township is also working to install the same signs at the intersection of Scotch Road and Pennington-Titusville Road.  

We have successfully worked with the County on road safety before, and we are persistent in our advocacy where necessary. As an example, for many years under a previous County administration, residents rightly expressed concerns about the 30 mph speed limit in front of Bear Tavern School on County Route 579 during school hours. The Township Committee continuously advocated for this as well, and working with County Commissioner (and former Hopewell Township Mayor) Kristin McLaughlin, the speed limits in front of the school finally were lowered to 25 mph last year, with lower speed buffer zones being added as well. 

Further, also at our February 20 meeting, and in coordination with our partners in Hopewell Borough, we passed a Resolution requesting that the County lower the speed limits on Hopewell-Pennington Road/West Broad Street (County Route 654) and Louellen Street (County Route 518). Hopewell Borough had requested the County implement a 25 mph speed limit within the Borough, and in order to allow drivers time to safely slow down, there must be buffer zone speed limits surrounding the new 25 mph zone. The County took quick action again, and this change has already been implemented. These speed limits in the Township have been lowered to 25 mph, 35 mph, and then 40 mph as you drive away from the Borough.  Be on the lookout for increased traffic patrols by the Hopewell Township Police Department to enforce the new zones.

Things get even more complicated when a State road is involved. Then, we must work with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT).  For example, there have been long-standing concerns about safety at the intersection of State Route 31 and Ingleside Avenue (County Route 631). As of January, in the last three years alone, there have been 28 crashes at that intersection, with nine resulting in injuries. This is not acceptable. The Township has requested that NJDOT conduct a traffic study as the first step in installing a full traffic signal at the intersection, and last year we committed to pay 25% of the cost. We would like this to be moving along more quickly, but we are pushing as hard as we can and will continue to work with the County and NJDOT to get this done.  

The Hopewell Township Committee is committed to doing whatever we can to improve safety on our roads and highways. Even when we do not have the power to change speed limits or traffic measures on our own, we have built solid relationships with our County and State partners, who are willing to work with us to make these critical improvements. 

If you know of an area in the Township that could potentially benefit from increased traffic safety measures, please reach out.  My email is [email protected], and my cell is 609-577-3312.

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