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Iggy Spina
Guest Column
Resident warns of dangerous traffic situation in Edison

Your Turn Iggy Spina Guest Column Resident warns of dangerous traffic situation in Edison

Iggy Spina
Guest Column
Resident warns of dangerous traffic situation in Edison

Patricia Soccodato, a registered nurse employed at JFK Medical Center in Edison, was struck and instantly killed July 15 by a vehicle while walking from JFK Medical Center to Temple Emanuel. Patricia had just completed her shift and was walking across James Street to retrieve her car in the temple parking lot.

A senseless accident that surely could have been prevented. Mayor Spadoro and the entire town council, planning and zoning board as well as JFK Medical Center all share responsibility for this senseless loss of life and the death of a wonderful, devoted nurse, mother and wife.

Edison Township officials have been repeatedly apprised of the fact that the hospital area is being choked and suffocated with traffic problems in this north Edison area and in particular James Street. All pleas have fallen on deaf ears. The mayor has ignored residents of the area. The mayor has been non-existent and refused to meet with residents who have had complaints of flooding, traffic and the burgeoning problems with commercial medical offices being crammed into the area that long ago reached the saturation point. Traffic studies conducted by the Edison Police Department advised against further construction and advised strongly that the area will not support additional traffic. These warnings have gone unheeded by the mayor’s office and all town council officials.

A beautiful person’s life has been snuffed out and still others have previously sustained injury but were more fortunate. Edison officials continue to be in denial; however, they must bear responsibility for creating this extremely sorrowful, unsafe condition. JFK Medical Center officials have also been in complete denial by testifying they do not have parking problems, yet they direct their employees to park in the Temple Emanuel parking lot since they have insufficient parking on hospital property. JFK officials therefore must also bear responsibility for this tragedy. Hundreds of people are still crossing James Street daily to gain access to medical offices or parking lots opposite the hospital all day and night. All of these people are gambling with a very high possibility of being struck by oncoming traffic.

Construction of still another medical office has started, crammed in behind Temple Emanuel where the builder was given carte blanche permission by Edison officials to remove 5 acres of trees just this past week. Another two-way road is to be constructed at the immediate location where Patricia Soccodato was killed. This two-way road is immediately opposite the emergency entrance to the JFK Medical Center. Another brilliant move on the part of Edison officials.

In spite of this terrible tragedy Edison officials approved still another builder’s medical office application as recently as July 20, a mere five days after the death of Patricia Soccodato. Unfortunately even though a needless loss of life has occurred, it has meant little to township officials as shown by their approval of this latest application. Edison officials continue to kow-tow to greedy builders who hire highly paid "traffic experts" to testify for them and convince Edison Township officials that traffic problems are non-existent. These so-called high priced experts live in communities far removed from Edison and therefore know little or nothing about daily life and traffic problems that exist in our community. Edison officials refuse to accept traffic studies by its own Police Department.

Mayor Spadoro could reduce the budget quickly and easily by getting rid of the Planning Board, Zoning Board and Township Council by just granting all builders applications without the numerous meetings and studies made, since ultimately all applications are sooner or later granted one way or another.

It’s particularly heartbreaking for me to accept this needless loss of life because I and many other North Edison residents have been warning Edison officials that a terrible accident was going to happen sooner or later. We have pleaded our case to deaf ears for over four years. I pray to God that I will never hear of another tragedy; however, conditions are such that it is almost inevitable that others will occur.

Edison officials continue to compound a very serious condition they have created — a condition of overdevelopment without the necessary road access to handle the traffic brought on by all the development. They continue to allow additional development and have turned a horrible condition into a horrendous condition now, resulting with the loss of a valuable life.

James Street is a major crossover road used by many thousand people daily to gain access to Route 1, Route 27, the N.J. Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, Menlo Park train station, Menlo Park Mall and Woodbridge Center mall, to mention a few. In addition it provides access to many people coming from surrounding communities. It serves as a main thoroughfare for fire department access, ambulance access, and police access to and from daily emergencies.

Make no mistake about it, many people bear responsibility for Patricia Soccodato’s death, a truly senseless loss that could have been prevented. I pray the mayor and Edison Township officials will come to their senses and realize they have created a monstrous problem that they continue to feed. Edison officials never give any thought to how their senseless, unintelligent decisions affect the lives of others. The Soccodato family’s lives have certainly been affected forever by this tragedy, as are the lives of many North Edison residents who are affected daily by the decisions of Edison officials.

Iggy Spina is a resident of Edison