CARS brings safety concerns on Sharon Station Road

Guest Column • Patricia and Edward Smires

‘Atragic accident,” “A loss of life” — headlines that touch the very soul of a community and headlines that now touch our community.

Within the past few weeks, in a tragic occurrence on Sharon Station Road, an individual was struck and killed by a tanker truck. While we pause to offer condolences and prayers to the family members who lost their loved one, we must also pause to ensure that an event such as this never touches the hearts of our community again.

While we can understand to some extent the pain and emotions that may touch those who knew the victim, vitriol, false allegations and the wishing of harm to innocent families is just plain wrong.

For a former official of Upper Freehold Township, in fact a former mayor and committeemen for many, many years, to wish destruction on innocent families and ascribe false blame for this tragic accident to them just speaks volumes as to why this person is a former official.

It is a well-known fact that for many years there have been concerns related to the safety of Sharon Station Road. Just check the records of public meetings to verify this. The Township Committee has been trying to transfer Sharon Station Road to the county since the late 1980s. These safety concerns have only been heightened by the continued residential development along this road.

For a former official, and to some extent, a current one also, to raise the sadness of this tragic incident to levels of vitriol, only speaks to their own failures to address the safety concerns on Sharon Station Road, though they have had ample opportunity to do so.

We are members or supporters of Citizens Advocating Road Safety (CARS), a community resident group formed to bring attention to the safety concerns on Sharon Station Road. For the longest time, CARS members urged governmental leaders in Upper Freehold Township to do something concerning the ever-increasing levels of commercial truck traffic on Sharon Station Road.

CARS urged the Upper Freehold Township Committee to either ban commercial truck traffic, to enforce or enact appropriate weight restrictions for these trucks along Sharon Station Road, to lower the speed limit or to implement other safety improvements that could be made immediately while potential future plans for the road were being developed between the township and the county.

CARS has no political agenda. Its only goal is to ensure the safety and well-being of all — to seek and obtain a satisfactory resolution to the ever-increasing truck traffic that affects each of us on a daily basis.

CARS members warned of the potential for a tragic accident such as the one that recently happened. While promises of improvements were made and township officials indicated that they were concerned about the safety issues regarding Sharon Station Road, CARS was forced to take legal action in an attempt to further focus efforts and enact a change from merely words and promises into action.

Despite allegations from a former official to the contrary, the legal action taken by CARS in 2007 did not impede any progress to improve Sharon Station Road, nor did it seek any injunctive relief. The legal action was

taken in an effort to force a long-delayed and long-lacking dialogue on safety issues related to Sharon Station Road and to make certain

that any transfer of Sharon Station Road to the county was properly completed.

The actions taken by CARS were taken for the benefit of the entire community, not for the advantage of a select few residents. Although CARS initially pursued this course of action, CARS withdrew its legal action more than a year ago when new members were elected to the Upper Freehold Township Committee who promised responsive actions to improve safety on Sharon Station Road.

Again, the decision to withdraw the legal action was taken over a year ago, and yet, while some township officials, both past and present, continue to pontificate on improving safety on Sharon Station Road, little if any action has been taken to physically improve the road now.

A tragic accident — a loss of life — is it not now the time for all in our community to come together as one and to address the safety issues on Sharon Station Road? Is it not now the time to stop the vitriol, to stop ascribing false blame to families in the community and come together as one for the benefit of our own community and the families that live here? Is it not now the time for neighbors to reach out and care for neighbors? We think so.

Patricia and Edward Smires

on behalf of CARS Upper Freehold Township