City waits for light at dangerous intersection

The crosswalk at routes 518 and 165 spans four lanes of traffic and has been the site of many accidents.

By Linda Seida, Staff Writer
   LAMBERTVILLE — A crosswalk where a pedestrian was killed last year and another pedestrian suffered minor injuries this month still is waiting for a traffic light that received state approval in January.
   The crosswalk at routes 518 and 165 spans four lanes of traffic, two southbound and two northbound.
   A 23-year-old woman was struck there in April 2006 and died later of her injuries. A 55-year-old man suffered minor injuries, including head and back pain, when he was struck crossing Nov. 3.
   ”It’s a very bad spot,” Police Director Bruce Cocuzza said. “If some motorist tries to let a pedestrian cross, the other three lanes have to be in agreement. There is too much traffic to allow for the goodwill of drivers.”
   Mr. Cocuzza has long advocated a traffic light to allow for safer pedestrian crossings.
   ”I just for the life of me can’t image what’s holding it up,” he said.
   ”It’s a dangerous situation,” said Mayor David Del Vecchio, another longtime proponent of the traffic light. “We’re doing what we can. For me, stopping traffic is important for pedestrians. We are a pedestrian city. You can’t have one road cutting off part of the city.”
   About a quarter mile stretch of highway that includes the dangerous intersection was the scene of about 10 percent of the city’s accidents in 2005, Mr. Cocuzza previously reported.
   He called it “extremely dangerous.”
   Mayor Del Vecchio said grant money from the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission will pay for the light.
   ”We went to the bridge commission for the money, and we went to the DOT for approval,” he said. “They said they would. It’s got to be designed and go through the process.”
   In a letter to the city dated Nov. 9, the New Jersey Department of Transportation said the city engineer’s design must undergo a review by the agency’s Traffic Signal and Safety Engineering office because the DOT will be responsible for the light’s maintenance after installation.
   The DOT agreed in January to allow the light to be installed. It will be located at Swan Street and Route 165, slightly south of where pedestrians are accustomed to crossing.
   ”This will go forward, and, hopefully, once this light is installed, people will be able to access the downtown or the school or wherever they want to go safely,” Mayor Del Vecchio said. “It’s in the pipeline.”