BURLINGTON CITY – A bill to permanently reduce the speed limit along a dangerous stretch of Route 130 near several Burlington City schools was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday.
“Antwan’s Law” was inspired by the death of a Burlington City High School student Antwan Timber, Jr., 17, who was fatally struck by a passing motorist on Route 130 in May 2016. The teen was waiting to cross an intersection along Route 130, one of the state’s most dangerous roads for pedestrians.
The bill picked up Senate approval with a vote of 34-1. It passed both houses and then earned Murphy's signature.
The measure permanently reduces the speed limit to 25 mph on Route 130 near Burlington City High School and Wilbur Watts Intermediate School and also triples fines for those caught speeding in the school zone. The speed limit had been 25 mph when children are going to and leaving school during school hours, but increased to 40 mph all other times.
State Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) helped sponsor the legislation, which was introduced by his predecessor, Sen. Diane Allen, who is now retired. Allen came to Burlington City High School several years ago to introduce the piece of legislation, with Timbers' family present.
"Our years-long effort to pass this legislation was achieved in large part to Antwan's friends and school community insisting on action so that their friend's life didn't end in vain. With this law, Antwan's memory lives on," Singleton said.
Wilbur Watts Intermediate School backs up to Route 130 South, while Burlington City High School sits just off Route 130 North on the opposite side. Students cross the highway going to and from school or school events daily.
Burlington City High School students started a 25 Saves Lives campaign prompted by Timbers’ death, calling for a full-day reduction in the speed limit in the school zone along Route 130 as well.
“On behalf of the students and staff at Burlington City High School, we thank Gov. Murphy for signing Antwan’s Law,” said Burlington City High School principal Jim Flynn. “We truly feel that Antwan’s Law will help save the lives of our students, staff, and the residents of Burlington City."
Flynn thanked Singleton, Allen and assemblywoman Carol Murphy for supporting the measure applauded the students and staff who led the 25 Saves Lives campaign.
“We will now focus on helping Mayor (Barry) Conaway and the Burlington City Police Department create awareness about the reduced speed limit and foster a safer school zone along Route 130," he said.
The New Jersey Department of Transportation implemented changes to traffic patterns on Route 130 in Burlington City in 2017, narrowing the highway from three lanes to two in hopes of getting drivers to slow down.
Murphy, who also sponsored the bill, said the "students and local families have come together to champion this legislation and make a difference in their community. Their efforts will result in Route 130 becoming a safer roadway for pedestrians and motorists alike."