MANCHESTER – Manchester Township has an unusual problem in that it is striped by county and state roads which are very busy and the only way to get places – and also potentially dangerous.
There are developments that feed into these roads, but most of the township-owned roads are residential. The rest are controlled by the state or the county. The township cannot make changes to roads they don’t own.
Route 70, for example, is a busy thoroughfare, and Mayor Ken Palmer said he’d like to see it be two lanes, each way, with a divider throughout the length of town.
The township officials write letters to Trenton to try to get some movement to make 70 safer, but it’s an uphill battle, he said. The Department of Transportation tends to focus its attention on major cities up north.
The Department of Transportation has received correspondence from local officials and Sen. James Holzapfel (R-10th) regarding their desire for changes in Route 70, said Daniel Triana, public information officer for the DOT. However, they would need a formal request and a cost sharing agreement. After that, an investigation would be performed, and federal guidelines would determine whether the change is warranted.
Palmer said he remembered that the state performed a traffic study a few years ago. However, if that is what the state wants, Manchester will do whatever it takes to get this taken care of.
On Route 539, there’s been a number of fatalities, especially in the summer time, he said. A task force has been focusing on this area, made up of officers from Manchester, the county, and other towns that have 539 running through it. The added enforcement has seen some improvements.
Additionally, the county has improved some of the curves in the road so that they are less dangerous, as well as increased signage to let drivers know of conditions, he said.
There’s a mix of high speed drivers, on a winding road with a small shoulder that makes for some dangerous situations. “Once the tires leave the roadway and hit soft sand, they lose control,” he said.
Township police provided statistics for collisions in 2016, the most recent year that there was comprehensive data. There were 1,005 crashes in 2016. Of those, 408 were on County or State Highways 37, 70, 571, 539, 614, 547, 530. The police broke these crashes down even further, marking 281 of them that only resulted in property damage. There were 91 crashes where at least one person complained of pain to first responders. There were 31 that resulted in a moderate injury, and two had incapacitating injuries.
Unfortunately, there were five fatal collisions. Two were on Route 530. Two were on Route 70. One was on Route 571.
Interestingly, the peak times for crashes were in the afternoon from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and the peak days for crashes were Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
There were 80 crashes that involved distracted driving, and seven that involved alcohol. There were 62 that involved collision with an animal.