Senate Meeting Highlights Montclair State Traffic Issue

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Published October 4, 2021
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The Montclarion
Traffic on Yogi Berra Drive caused by cars leaving Car Parc Diem and the surrounding parking lots. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Last week, Montclair State University held its first senate meeting of the school year, with the university’s traffic problem being one of the major takeaways.

During the meeting, Paul Cell, the chief of police at the Montclair State Police Department, told senate members that they are actively working together with the administration and other towns to ease the traffic flow on campus.

“We are full speed ahead on trying to resolve this for everyone,” Cell said.

Some of the traffic control efforts Cell mentioned were trying to get towns to override the lights for hard-hit traffic areas. They are also seeking out communication from these towns, so they can send a message to students who are driving in when construction is happening. However, Cell said the notices are not being received in a timely manner.

“We are in a situation we’ve never faced before,” Cell said.

Montclair State's first senate meeting was held on Sept. 29. Photo courtesy of Cristal Santos

Montclair State University’s first senate meeting was held on Sept. 29.
Photo courtesy of Cristal Santos

Cell said one of the major issues playing a role in the traffic jam is how many students are on campus per day since there is only one main roadway for the majority of cars to leave campus.

Montclair State’s student population has rapidly grown throughout the years. This year alone, there are 21,005 students enrolled, including graduate and undergraduate students.

According to Cell, there are over 14,000 students on campus on Monday, with Tuesdays and Thursdays falling just a bit short of that number. Wednesdays and Fridays have the least number of students at about 9,000.

A line of cars wrapped down Yogi Berra Drive. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

A line of cars wrapped down Yogi Berra Drive. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Cell said the administration is working hard to design new roadways to get out of campus, but things don’t seem very bright for the future.

An ongoing legal battle of 16 years between Montclair State and the city of Clifton finally came to an end after the New Jersey Supreme Court denied Montclair State’s petition to convert Yogi Berra road into a two-way street. Clifton argued that converting the road, as is, into a two-way street was not a safe thing to do.

Sekhena Sembenu, a sophomore journalism major, is a student who faces traffic issues on campus.

“The other day, I got out of class at 5 p.m. and somehow didn’t get off campus until 6 p.m. and then didn’t get home [until], like, 6:30 p.m.,” Sembenu said. “Why am I waiting in a car for an hour just to get on the highway?”

Sekhena Sembenu, a sophomore journalism major, is a student who faces traffic issues on campus. Photo courtesy of Sekhena Sembenu

Sekhena Sembenu, a sophomore journalism major, is a student who faces traffic issues on campus.
Photo courtesy of Sekhena Sembenu

Sembenu, although a commuter student, does not own a car and relies heavily on Uber to commute to and from campus. Concerns on whether or not Uber drivers will want to pick up rides in the future from Montclair State have been raised by several students.

Sembenu added that the traffic does not seem to let up at any point during the day.

“There’s traffic at all times of the day,” Sembenu said. “There’s no way we can continue like this. People actually have places to be. Work, family, etc.”

Isaias Ramirez, a senior communication and media arts major, is another student who has experienced traffic while trying to drive on campus.

Isaias Ramirez, a senior communications and media major, said traffic on campus is terrible. Photo courtesy of Isaias Ramirez

Isaias Ramirez, a senior communications and media major, said traffic on campus is terrible.
Photo courtesy of Isaias Ramirez

“Traffic is terrible on campus. Like, downright disgusting,” Ramirez said. “It adds an extra 30 minutes to an hour to your commute.”

Montclair State President Jonathan Koppell agreed that traffic is a big issue on campus and is something he is trying to resolve.

“We are in deep discussions with the Department of Transportation and the municipalities around to try and fix the lights and the traffic patterns so that it doesn’t back all the way up onto the campus and create a nightmare for everybody,” Koppell said.

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