To Millburn-Short Hills Patch:
About 20-25 residents attended the Residents For Traffic Safety forum on Thursday, Nov. 29 to express their concerns, ask questions, and offer their ideas regarding the Stop & Shop development planned to be built on Millburn Avenue. Generally, the comments centered around public safety and lowering of the quality of life in the area due to the greatly increased car and truck traffic that the supermarket will draw. As resident Mary Fran Johnson stated, ”I can’t believe that an additional 6,000 cars a day would NOT have an impact on the quality of our neighborhood and town.”
Attendees agreed that all trucks should not be required to enter and exit on Millburn Avenue and that there should be a traffic light at the Morris Avenue site entrance where trucks could enter. Stop & Shop would have to request a waiver from the DOT for such a traffic light.
There also were questions regarding the traffic light at Millburn Avenue and Baltusrol Way approved by Essex County and the impact on residential streets of an extended traffic queue on Baltusrol.
Numerous attendees worried aloud about the safety of students from Millburn High School and St. Rose Academy crossing Millburn Avenue with even more traffic than now seen on the congested street.
Reflecting comments made a recent Zoning Board meetings by the township engineer and the board’s traffic consultant, questions and skepticism were raised as to the ability of tractor trailer trucks to negotiate right turns onto Millburn Avenue from Morris Avenue and from Millburn Avenue onto Short Hills Avenue, as well as into and out of the loading dock area off Millburn Avenue, exacerbating traffic problems.
Springfield resident Peter Quinn, focusing on the store’s loading dock area, echoed a critique by the Zoning Board traffic consultant who had noted that “It appears that the acoustical wall restricts circulation and will create back-ups on Millburn Avenue.” Quinn consulted a professional truck driver about turn-arounds in the dock area and was told it was an “almost impossible” turn that would take “up to 45 minutes to execute.” He suggested that the Zoning Board have a professional trucker look at the configuration and determine if the turns can be made as S&S claims.
Quinn also noted that one of the four loading docks will be tied up with a dropped half-trailer housing a generator for standby power. That would leave only three active docks for a store nearly double the size of King’s, which has six loading docks.
Resident Larry Gelber was concerned with safety and quality of life considerations. He asked, “What will be the safety impact to residential streets near and abutting Baltusrol Way and how will the values of homes in the Glenwood area be affected? What will happen to the congestion at the high school and St. Rose school at the beginning and end of the school day? What will happen to the flow of traffic along Millburn Avenue when large delivery trucks attempt to negotiate this area? Will this development result in fewer potential customers willing to brave the traffic nightmare? The residents look to township leaders to do all they can to protect us and our community.”
Eli Heitin expressed concern about “a lack of awareness in our community of the impact this “superstore” will have on the area. Traffic will become unbearable on Baltusrol Way and Millburn Avenue and our children’s safety will be compromised. The Zoning Board has a responsibility to protect our welfare.”
Given the reported inadequacies of Stop & Shop’s traffic study, residents agreed that a comprehensive, independent traffic study was needed and that Stop & Shop’s claims should not be taken at face value.
Attendees vowed to bring their questions to the Zoning Board meeting on December 17, at 7:00 p.m. at Millburn Town Hall.