Hopewell Borough has received ongoing complaints about pedestrian safety, according to Michele Hovan, Hopewell Borough Administrator, at the Borough Council meeting last Thursday night. At that meeting, Council discussed safety concerns, particularly in the most busy downtown area of East Broad Street.
“Blackwell and Broad is a congested area,” said Hovan. “Everyone thinks that going down Broad it is confusing – two crosswalks is a lot to look at.”
Councilwoman Roxanne Klett agreed that it is very hard to see. Councilman Sky Morehouse agreed but stated that the safety responsibilities are a two part relationship.
When facing east on the crosswalk in front of the Boro Bean, a driver cannot see someone on the curb and a pedestrian, in the crosswalk crossing north, cannot see the driver either, explained Borough Engineer Dennis O’Neal.
Parking is not permitted 25 feet from a striped crosswalk however, if a truck is parked in the first parking spot next to the crosswalk, the visibility is compromised for drivers and pedestrians. O’Neal proposes blocking out another 15 feet of no-parking in that location (not one full space) to have clear view through the flashing light heading east bound. He also is proposing additional visibility improvements that would ultimately eliminate a total of 3-4 parking spots in that vicinity. O’Neal also explained that there is already discussion for a future crosswalk from Seminary Avenue crossing East Broad Street.
In addition to the crosswalks, the overhead banner spanning East Broad was identified as a distraction issue. “There is a lot going on there and we want to eliminate some of the visual stimulus,” said O’Neal.
Ultimately, the Council discussed removing the banner permanently so that drivers are not looking up while driving through the center of town. “As far as I’m concerned, if we don’t have the sign anymore, we don’t have it there anymore,” said Morehouse, with other members in agreement.
Morehouse requested that the investigation be viewed holistically. “I would like to address this more systematically,” said Councilman Morehouse. “We started with the one [crosswalk] on the west side of Blackwell and then moved onto having another on the east side and now we’re talking about manipulating sight lines in bits and pieces.”
Councilman David Mackie agreed but added that the Council should also consider loading zones as well.
Council asked the Borough engineer to prepare a study and recommendations for the most trafficked “center” of downtown in the vicinity of East Broad and intersections of Greenwood Avenue, Blackwell Avenue, and Seminary Avenue but not all the way down to Princeton Avenue. Going forward, the Council will hear the recommendations of its engineer and would have to adopt an ordinance to make the requisite changes.