We noticed from the voluminous comments posted on the Burlington 08016 Facebook page that residents, like us, are having a difficult time wrapping their heads around the speed limit on Route 130 being permanently reduced from 40 mph to 25 in Burlington City’s school zone, not just during school hours.
We published an editorial expressing the same doubts back in early February, when Gov. Phil Murphy signed Antwan’s Law, named after Burlington City teenager Antwan Timbers Jr., who was fatally struck by a drunken driver three years ago while walking along the busy state highway.
But now it’s official: New speed limit signs are being put in place and the state law will be enforced. The new law also lowers the area leading up to the school zone, between Wood Street and Jacksonville Road, to 35 mph and triples the fine for speeding.
Comments from residents run the gamut, and the agitation level seems high on all sides. Some don’t get why the lower limit has to be 24/7. Some keep calling for a pedestrian overpass (too expensive and impractical). Some say it’s only a minor inconvenience when children’s safety is at stake. Some anticipate a money grab for the ticket-crazed police force. Some simply see a dumb, needless decision by the state: After all, no one is going to drive 25, and neither are they.
It’s not every day that you see a four-lane highway with the same speed limit as a residential road. And having frequently traveled that section of 130, we have to admit that we don’t see too many drivers obeying it.
Still, we have to acknowledge that students from Burlington City High School lobbied fervently for this change with a “25 Saves Lives” campaign, with support from school district administrators, local legislators and many community members. It may not be the best solution — we ambitiously argued for Burlington City students to regionalize with and attend Burlington Township, thereby getting them off the highway — but it does appear to be the most practical.
So if reducing the speed limit also reduces traffic to a crawl, and thus prevents a single pedestrian death — whether it’s at 2:30 p.m. or 2:30 a.m. — then we support it.