Montclair State University goes to court today to settle an ongoing fight against Passaic County and the city of Clifton over adding a third exit from campus. Currently, there are only two exits from the university’s 246-acre campus – the one at the front near Normal Avenue and Valley Road and the exit from Clove Road, which leads to Route 46.
The proposed traffic improvement was originally submitted in 2005 and was denied by Passaic County, according to NorthJersey.com. The plan called for the conversion of Yogi Berra Drive into a two-way road, with a new traffic light installment at the intersection on Valley Road. Since this first rejection, the university has been battling local governments to obtain permission to build the third exit.
This week, all parties involved will appear before Judge Thomas Brogan. According to Erika Bleiberg, Interim Director of Media Relations, the judge will issue a decision at the conclusion of the argument on Feb. 25.
The university has been monitoring traffic patterns since 2004, said Bleiberg. With the assistance of certified traffic engineers, Montclair State determined that the addition of a third exit from campus would enhance the safety and well-being of the university community.
“At certain times of the day, everything is backed up,” said Alex Calabro, a senior psychology major. “If you could go out another way, it would relieve some of that traffic.” She thinks the university’s proposed plans would be a huge benefit, especially to commuter students such as herself.
Montclair State provided additional traffic studies in 2014 and again in 2015, said Bleiberg. The university believes these studies clearly demonstrate the need and value of this third exit from campus. “The proposed traffic improvement is necessary to address a critical public safety issue for our students, faculty, staff, visitors and community residents,” Bleiberg said.
The City of Clifton provided their own traffic report in response to the one prepared by the university. The mayor of Clifton, James Anzaldi, said to NorthJersey.com, “It’s unfortunate that the university is pushing for something that’s so ridiculous. Why they’re trying to push it down our throats is strange.”
In response to Clifton’s traffic report, the university modified their plans to address the objections brought up by Passaic County and the City of Clifton, said Bleiberg.
These plans note that currently right turns are not permitted onto Valley Road when the traffic light is red. Montclair State wants to add image detection so that the signal on Valley Road will remain green unless vehicles are approaching on Yogi Berra Drive. The university also wants to add a high-friction surface material to Yogi Berra Drive to enhance safety and retain the existing gate on Valley Road for use by the university during inclement weather.
“There would definitely be less traffic with these plans,” said Lawrence Carter, a graduate student in the school’s psychology program. “They even had to get crossing guards in because [Yogi Berra Drive] is so busy. [These plans] would help with the problem.”