Howell official wants say over speed limits

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

HOWELL — Township Councilman Joseph M. DiBella believes a municipality should have sovereignty over its roads.

To that end, DiBella said he has contacted state Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer (R-Monmouth, Ocean, Burling-ton, Mercer) in an effort to see if legislation can be developed that would give municipalities the right to set their own speed limits on municipal roads.

As towns change and more people populate a particular area, DiBella said, local officials — and not the state — should be able to regulate the speed limits on their roads. DiBella said he questions the formula the state uses to establish speed limit criteria.

"I think we should have more authority in regulating these things," DiBella said. "It’s something we should be able to do to protect residents."

DiBella said he is going to see that money is set aside in next year’s budget for something to be done that will "structurally reduce people’s speeds" on Arnold Boulevard and other township roads where residents believe the speeds are excessive.

DiBella said the Howell Police Department is to be commended for dedicating a police officer’s presence on Arnold Boulevard this past month in an effort to target speeders. However, he said, an increased police presence is not the only answer.

"The problem is that people are going to always drive over what a posted speed limit is," DiBella said. "Our hope is that by posting a limit more conducive to a residential neighborhood, over time people will adjust their speed to those limits."

Resident Paul Rehberger has been one of the loudest and most determined voices of all the Arnold Boulevard residents seeking a reduction in the speed limit. He said he has lived on Arnold Boulevard for 17 years, back when it had no posted speed limit. The speed limit on a road without a posted speed limit is 50 mph.

Rehberger conceded that 50 mph is the average speed of motorists along the fairly straight stretch of road.

About five years ago, a 50 mph sign was posted on the road. After that, said Rehberger, the intercession of state Sen. Robert W. Singer about two years ago got the speed limit reduced to a posted limit of 45 mph.

Rehberger said he believes the speed limit needs to be reduced to 35 mph.

According to police traffic safety officer Matthew Bishop, numerous traffic studies done on Arnold Boulevard support keeping the posted speed at 45 mph.

In lieu of reducing the speed limit again, Rehberger said he wants the designation of Arnold Boulevard to change under state guidelines from a rural road to a suburban residential road.

Rehberger said he believes the increase in the number of families with children moving onto Arnold Boulevard warrants the change.

According to Rehberger, he was told by a state Department of Transportation official that if the road’s designation was officially changed to the suburban residential designation, the town would be able to request and receive a 35 mph speed limit.

Dancer said he has asked the Office of Legislative Services to research the matter and make the appropriate legislative suggestions if changes to the state regulations are warranted.