Route 130 tops 'most dangerous' list for fifth consecutive year

Despite an ongoing traffic enforcement blitz, Route 130 has not been able to shed its label as New Jersey's most dangerous road for pedestrians.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign on Wednesday named the highway the state's deadliest for pedestrians for a fifth consecutive year, stating that enhanced enforcement is not enough to address the road's dangers.

"What Route 130 needs is continuous sidewalks, median islands and crosswalks," said Matthew Norris, South Jersey coordinator for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit that advocates for transportation improvements in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

"Given the lack of this infrastructure, it is no surprise that Route 130 continues to top the list," Norris said.

The group created its "most dangerous" list in 2008 to highlight the need to make highways more pedestrian-friendly. Route 130 has topped the list each year based on its record of pedestrian fatalities during the preceding three years.

The group did not release a report in 2009.

The most recent designation was based on nine deaths that occurred on Burlington County's stretch between 2011 and 2013. Two pedestrians died in 2011, six in 2012 and one in 2013.

The total represented nearly half of the 21 pedestrians killed in traffic accidents during that time in all of Burlington County.

Route 30, also known as the White Horse Pike, in Camden County was tied with Route 9 in Middlesex County at No. 2 on this year's most-dangerous list, with eight pedestrian deaths each.

A section of Route 30 in Atlantic County and Route 36 in Monmouth County were next, with six pedestrian fatalities during the preceding three years.

Norris and the Tri-State organization acknowledged improvements on Route 130 in recent years, including increased enforcement through a state-funded crackdown on speeding and other illegal-driving behaviors by the Burlington County Sheriff's Department and officers from all 12 municipal police forces along the corridor.

Sheriff Jean Stanfield has said studies of driver behavior on Route 130 since the crackdown was launched in May 2013 have revealed that compliance has vastly improved, with observers reporting a 73 percent reduction in speeding and a 74 percent decrease in driving while distracted.

However, pedestrian deaths have continued, including four last year.

Stanfield has said that the enforcement blitz will continue, and that her office is investigating other safety actions, such as a pedestrian education campaign.

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission is also performing a traffic study on the highway to provide recommendations for pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign said.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation has made several improvements along Route 130 in recent years, mostly enhanced traffic signals and more sidewalks.

More infrastructure upgrades are needed, according to Tri-State and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

"Thanks in part to previous 'most dangerous roads' reports, local officials have taken action to step up traffic enforcement on Route 130. However, enforcement alone cannot solve the chronic problem of bicycle and pedestrian safety," said John Boyle, research director for the Bicycle Coalition. "Physical changes to the road, including contiguous sidewalks, modern walk signals, highly visible crosswalks and pedestrian refuge medians, are necessary to accommodate our most vulnerable road users, including children, the elderly and persons with disabilities."

The groups want the state to identify a new, sustainable revenue source to replenish the state's Transportation Trust Fund before it runs out of money this summer. Their other recommendations include doubling funding for pedestrian improvements and passing legislation requiring motorists to give room when passing a pedestrian or bicyclist.

Assemblymen Herb Conaway, D-7th of Delanco, and Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, have sponsored legislation to increase fines for traffic violations involving pedestrians and to dedicate a large share of the proceeds to safety improvements.


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