2/20/10- This letter was e-mail to all members with accurate email addresses in file:
Dear Fellow Taxpayer/HCTA Member:
Boulevard safety has long been one of the paramount issues facing Harvey Cedars. You have recently received in the mail a survey put together by the Borough of Harvey Cedars. We feel that it is important that you answer this survey; however we also feel that this survey is biased and contains question language formatted to illicit specific responses that will allow the politicians to do nothing as opposed to taking recommended steps to create a safer Boulevard. The commissioners asked for Harvey Cedars Taxpayers Association (HCTA) input on both the letter and survey you have received and incorporated none of our suggestions. Therefore we feel it necessary to give you additional background here as well as providing the complete revised traffic study report conducted by Stantec, the independent engineering firm hired by the County. The original report did not include weekend traffic data and therefore was revised to reflect traffic data that was collected during multiple summer weekends.
Please share this correspondence with your friends and neighbors in Harvey Cedars who might not be a part of our membership, yet for whom driver and pedestrian safety is an important concern.
The Cover Letter You Received from Harvey Cedars The letter says: “the County and the engineering firm confirmed that a three lane alternative to the current four lane configuration could feasibly be implemented.” The report clearly states that the three lane configuration would be safer¸ “Overall, the results of the analysis show that the proposed change in cross-section would not detrimentally impact traffic along the Long Beach Boulevard corridor, and, in fact, would improve operations for several locations”.
We take specific issue with two survey questions:
1. ) “Do you walk or ride with or against traffic?” Quite obviously, the root issue here is not the direction you face when you’re using the Blvd for recreational purposes; the issue is that when you have an 18” to 24” wide shoulder as we do in some places, you will always have people in — or dangerously close to — the roadway.
2.) “Some members of our fire and first aid emergency services have expressed concern that traffic will not yield to first responders” What they haven’t said is that other emergency personnel have said that this plan makes perfect sense and is significantly SAFER. Two key components here: First is the claim that there would be no place for traffic to pull over. Given that the overall width of the paved area is not changing, only the stripes on the pavement designating lanes, this concern barely holds water. The cars would pull off in the 3-lane configuration to the same place that they go now: to the side of the paved area. Second is that it would take too long for them to get to the firehouse or to the emergency. The engineering firm calculates that under the new plan to transit the entire length of Harvey Cedars would take just 22.3 seconds longer going north and 28 seconds longer going south – this is for normal vehicles traveling at the posted speed limit, not vehicles with flashing lights and/or sirens.
Although we have attached the final report from Stantec for your review, we thought some background, highlights and notes from presentations would be helpful.
* The county hired Stantec Consulting Services, an engineering consulting firm for the County, to do traffic counts, propose a solution and generate a computer simulation model based on that solution. Multi-day traffic data was collected on two separate occasions, this computer simulation was presented to the public on two occasions by Frank Scarantino, the head of the Ocean County Engineers Office, and Jeff Smithline of Stantec.
* The borough’s cover letter accurately describes what the engineering firm proposes for the new lane configurations: “This new plan would consist of a center turning lane (similar to what is in place south of the causeway), two traffic lanes (one in each direction), and both shoulders widened to accommodate a dedicated bike and pedestrian.”
* The computer simulation reflects the increase in travel time from one end of town to the other is 22.3 seconds northbound, 28 seconds southbound. The county engineer and the Stantec engineer felt that the minor trade-off in travel time (level of service) was far outweighed by the significant increase in overall safety.
* The engineer was able to explain, through the computer model, why the 3 lane configuration was SAFER and almost 95% as efficient as the 4 lane configuration. The report specifically states lane configurations such as this “tend to reduce vehicular speeds and improve safety for pedestrians (less travel lanes to cross) and bicycles (wider shoulders).” Additionally, both gentlemen said the plan was “considerably safer,” offered a “big safety benefit,” and “greatly enhances the level of service from side streets.”
IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU RESPOND TO THE SURVEY. The Commissioners state in their cover letter that “Your opinion will be an important part of our decision-making process whether to seek this change from the County.” The HCTA membership and other taxpayers have made it clear to us that you believe something needs to be done to improve the Blvd safety problem. Your response to this survey will make it clear to the Borough Commissioners as well.
We feel that politics are at play now, and our safety will be the victim. Towns north of us worried that it may take them 22 seconds longer to get to their houses should not be able to strong arm the county or our three elected Commissioners into not doing what is right.
In addition to responding to the survey, we urge you to contact each of the Harvey Cedars Commissioners with your concerns regarding Blvd safety for both driving and recreational activities.
Jonathan S. Oldham, Dept. of Public Safety and Public firstname.lastname@example.org
Judith E. Gerkens Dept. of Revenue and Finance email@example.com
Michael A. Garofalo Dept. of Public Works and Public Property firstname.lastname@example.org
Further, we encourage you to reach out with your correspondence to our Ocean County Freeholders listed below. Follow this link to contact Ocean County Freeholders by email: email@example.com.
Gerry P. Little James F. Lacey John P. Kelly John C. Bartlett, Jr. Joseph H. Vicari
Or an alternative is www.co.ocean.nj.us/ContactFreeholdersPage.aspx
Thank you for your assistance and for passing this on to your Harvey Cedars friends and neighbors. This important issue needs your immediate input.
The Harvey Cedars Taxpayers Association Trustees