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Morristown Getting $270K in State Aid

$185,000 going toward South Street streetscape project; $85,000 awarded for Lafayette Avenue pedestrian safety and accessibility improvements.

Morristown has been awarded a pair of grants from the New Jersey Department of Transportation, totalling $270,000, which will be used for the third phase in streetscape improvements on South Street, and for pedestrian safety and accessibility improvements on Lafayette Avenue.

$185,000 has been awarded for the streetscape improvement project, while $85,000 has been earmarked for Lafayette Avenue. The funds are part of a $78.4 million local aid grant package announced this week, providing monies for 376 municipalities statewide.

The majority of grants were awarded under the Municipal Aid program, with 374 grants totaling $76,126,200. Ten Local Aid Infrastructure Fund (LAIF) grants worth $1,810,000 were awarded. Morristown was one of three municipalities in the state to receive the Safe Streets to Transit grants, totalling $500,000

The 374 grants awarded were from a pool of 661 applicants, or 57 percent, according to the NJDOT press release.

"We're grateful to the governor for awarding us the money," Mayor Tim Dougherty said.

While the mayor said the town was pleased to receive the funds to continue the South Street streetscape improvements––"we're very, very happy to get the money for Safe Routes to Transit."

Councilman Stefan Armington said the Safe Routes to Transit grant would be used for a reconfiguration of traffic lanes on Lafayette Avenue, from Ridgedale to Morris avenues, to try and make that area more pedestrian friendly. , which reduced the number of lanes on Morris Avenue from three to two, he said.

An avid cyclist and vocal proponent of greater accessibility for those utilizing means of transportation other than automobiles, Armington said he was thrilled the town was getting the $85,000 grant.

"It's an extremely difficult road to cross and travel along," he said, noting its proximity to both the , as well as the Highlands at Morristown Station transit village, "which is technically supposed to be pedestrian and bike friendly, but it's really not at this point."

Dougherty said, while no time has been set to begin either project, "now that it's official, we'll get together with our engineers and planners and set dates to get moving."

Kenny Johnson March 27, 2012 at 07:18 PM
I bike and walk around Morristown a lot. This "project" doesn't make much sense. Firstly, these routes to be made more bike and pedestrian friendly are "Sidewalks to Nowhere". Sure there are businesses there but nothing you can't get somewhere else. There are many other places around town that could put these funds to better use. Lafayette between Ridgedale and Morris? Really. If you traveled to Ridgedale coming from town, then what??? Ridgedale is not pedestrian friendly and it's a long dangerous haul to get past the car dealerships just to get to the Morris County Mall. Why not fix up the crummy sidewalks on Western Ave so people can actually bike to Jockey Hollow/Lewis Morris? Secondly, the ride on Morris Ave from Columbia/Whippany road is already bearable and basically runs parallel to the Lafayette stretch in question. Why isn't that good enough as is? Lafayette traffic, especially the vehicles coming off 287S, is a hurried bunch and highly dangerous to pedestrians and bikers. Even if there was sidewalks I'd stay away from that area as it is. Why do I get the feeling this is more about the money, and less about the townsfolk? In my opinion, this is a huge waste of money.
Nordrom Keni March 27, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Not only is biking on sidewalks illegal in most places (unfortunately in NJ it is legal), it is dangerous and gives bikers a bad name. Bikes are meant to be ridden on roads or bike paths.
Kendra Arnold March 28, 2012 at 01:03 AM
I'm not sure what the reconfiguration is like, but Safe Routes to Transit is all about getting people to the train station; there are a lot of apartments/homes/condos on Ridgedale, and hopefully this will make it easier for people to get to the train station. I wouldn't mind a easier, more pleasant walk to Staples and the market next to it from town.
Mother Morristown March 28, 2012 at 05:47 AM
The greatest deterent of accessability to the train station is the 4 lane Morris Street. Those crosswalks are intimidating, challenging and dangerous, especially at dusk. Something should be done...maybe a pedestrian bridge?
Kendra Arnold March 28, 2012 at 01:47 PM
I think there are ways to make crosswalks safer; some towns have flashing lights illuminating them when people are in them or bringing in the curbs a bit at crosswalks to make the distance you walk shorter and slow traffic down. I did hear from someone that they are working on the corner of Morris/Elm under the train tracks to make it so cars and pedestrians are more visible to each other this summer. I think Morris Avenue might be a county road near the train station, but I'm not positive. I'd go for a yield to pedestrians sign near 7-11 to start.
Rebecca P. Feldman March 28, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Kenny, please get involved with BikeWalk Morristown, and help us shape the Mobility Plan when the Town reached out for public input this year. The section of Lafayette that is being improved is FROM Ridgedale TO Morris - as you walk or drive past STAPLES and the Train Station, where lots of shoppers and commuters do walk already. There will be a better sidewalk under the train trestle, lighting too. The crosswalks will only have to cross two lanes of cars, instead of three. It's actually a BIG improvement for a relatively modest sum, and kudos to Morris County for agreeing to these smart changes. As for the section of Lafayette from the Westin Hotel to Ridgedale Avenue, that's another story - you are right that it's a "cars-only" design - so far. Stay involved, and stay tuned! - Councilwoman Rebecca Feldman
Rebecca P. Feldman March 28, 2012 at 11:59 PM
In the Town of Morristown, there is a local Ordinance which prohibits adults from biking on the sidewalks. This is an issue especially in the Central Business District, where we have lots of sidewalk cafes and pedestrians. Adults who don't feel safe in the road need to walk their bikes on the sidewalks. - Councilwoman Rebecca Feldman
Rebecca P. Feldman March 29, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Mother Morristown, when the County of Morris recently paved and re-striped Morris Avenue, a thorough study was done and a number of improvements made - including re-locating the King Street crosswalk. With all the car volume and many turning movements, there was no way to add another traffic light, nor a pedestrain crosswalk from Wilmot Walk to the Midtown Shopping Center. Please contribute your ideas to the Mobility Plan when that process gets started this year. You can email me at r-feldman@townofmorristown.org if you'd like to know more.
Rebecca P. Feldman March 29, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Kendra, please let readers know how they can get volunteer with BikeWalkMorristown - and thank you for all you are doing to promote "complete streets" in our town! - Rebecca
Kendra Arnold March 29, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Bike and Walk Morristown meets at Zebu Forno on the second Monday of every month, at 7 pm. We welcome and anyone and everybody with an interest in walking and biking to show up, and we need all the help we can get. We are working on putting together a mid-day walking group for downtown Morristown, following up on the Morristown Pedestrian Project, May's Bike Month events, this summer's bike-in movie nights and other friendly walks and rides around town. You can email bikemorristown@gmail.com and asked to be added to our mailing list, and follow us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/BikeMorristown
Richard Babcock March 30, 2012 at 12:01 AM
We pay far too much attention to the needs of bicycles riders in this town. 99% of the people that work and live in Morristown walk or drive, yet we spend so much time catering to the small but vocal bike lobby that seems to exist. In additon to properly focusing on our time and money on the roads and sidewalks, we really need to be doing a much better job of sychronizing the lights around the green to achieve a better traffic flow and marking the lanes around the green so people will properly navigate their way around it, instead of changing lanes from left to right, and right to left, blocking traffic and cutting-off other drivers.
Chris Jansen May 02, 2012 at 07:58 PM
It's time to make biking safer in Morristown. You take your life in your hands when you ride from Morristown to the Morris County Mall on Ridgedale Avenue. As far as I can tell bicyclists are not welcome. Ridgedale should become 2 lanes with sufficient bike lanes instead of a 4-lane monstrosity. 4-lane roads like this are not only dangerous but they are ugly. For comparison, traveling by car or bike on Madison Avenue between Friendly's and the town of Madison is a pleasant experience. Traveling on Ridgedale to the Mall is a vicious road rally with cars constantly jockeying for position, and road rage always just a cut-off away. Both of these roads are similar in volume, one is pleasurable and one is not.

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