New light approved at Swan Street and Route 165

The intersection has been the site of numerous car crashes over the years and a fatal accident in 2006.

By: Linda Seida
   LAMBERTVILLE — The New Jersey Department of Transportation has approved the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Route 165 and Swan Street, the site of numerous car crashes over the years and a fatal accident in 2006.
   The traffic signal, when red, will stop vehicular traffic completely. City officials see this as a vast improvement over an earlier suggestion by the DOT to install a flashing yellow light that would merely warn drivers they are approaching a pedestrian crossing.
   Drivers "will have to stop at the intersection, and pedestrians will be able to cross without having to fear for their physical safety," Mayor David Del Vecchio said when he announced the approval Jan. 16.
   Mayor Del Vecchio said the traffic signal will include pedestrian-activated buttons to aid in crossing the highway.
   "We’re overjoyed," Police Director Bruce Cocuzza said Monday.
   Mr. Cocuzza has said that about 10 percent of the accidents that occurred in Lambertville in 2005 took place along an "extremely dangerous" half-mile stretch of road that includes the Route 165 and Swan Street intersection.
   The new signal will be paid for with grant money awarded to Lambertville in 2006 by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.
   Mayor David Del Vecchio said, "We’re paying for it with someone else’s money. This is not going to cost the taxpayers a dime because the Joint Toll Bridge Commission agreed to pay for engineering, too."
   Lambertville received a letter of approval from the state agency Jan. 9. Officials do not have a timeline for the installation.
   Mayor David Del Vecchio said, "For me, it’s been a multi-year fight for it. The thing that started the whole traffic-calming plan was the light at Swan Street and a 25-mph speed limit."
   The city has a million-dollar traffic-calming plan in the works to manage vehicular traffic and improve pedestrian safety and handicapped access. Officials have said this should be completed by 2008.
   Mayor Del Vecchio has been calling for safety improvements for years, including the new traffic signal. At least since 2000, he has asked the state for a lower speed limit of 25 mph on all city roads, including highways such as routes 165, 29 and 179. Speed limits now range from 35 to 45 mph.
   So far, the DOT has not approved that request.
   In April 2006, a 23-year-old woman who was crossing Route 165 on her way to work sustained fatal injuries when she was struck by vehicle. The accident occurred about 200 yards away from the site of a fatal accident in 2000 when a tractor-trailer plowed into a video store, killing one woman and injuring three other people.