DELRAN — Days after a man was struck and killed while crossing Route 130, officials are exploring ways to make the state highway safer for motorists and pedestrians.
Mayor Ken Paris worked with Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, last week to reach out to the New Jersey Department of Transportation and request additional safety measures to prevent any more tragedies.
“Unfortunately for us as a town, the state owns the road and maintains the road. It’s not ours to touch,” Township Council President Gary Catrambone said on Monday. “This is such a bad situation, and we’re looking for just any help from DOT.”
Resident John DeVece, 44, was pronounced dead at the scene after being hit by a Nissan SUV about 4:05 p.m. in the northbound lanes Thursday. The driver, a Willingboro resident, was not hurt and has not been charged.
The fatality is the 22nd in Burlington County this year, including two others in Delran, which occurred March 10 at Haines Mill Road and Tenby Chase Drive and June 29 at Route 130 and Chester Avenue.
Paris expressed his concerns about the Route 130 corridor to Singleton, who then sent a letter to DOT Commissioner Richard Hammer.
He asked that the agency include Delran in its pedestrian road safety audit of Route 130 this fall, and review if reducing lanes would calm traffic. A similar tactic, called a “road diet,” was implemented on Route 130 in Burlington City in April.
The city's section of the highway garnered attention after the death of Antwan Timbers, a 17-year-old student who was struck and killed by a vehicle in May 2016 while walking home. His death sparked state legislation to reduce speed limits on municipal or county roads near schools, and other campaigns to improve safety.
Singleton's letter also called for pedestrian push buttons and countdown signals at intersections in Delran. The DOT will advertise for bids next spring to bring those measures to Burlington City, according to the letter.
“Route 130 has the dubious distinction of being one of New Jersey’s deadliest roads, and I am seeking your further assistance in changing that,” Singleton wrote.
The county's stretch of the highway has proved to be especially dangerous for pedestrians. Its high death toll has prompted the nonprofit advocacy group Tri-State Transportation Campaign to label it as New Jersey's most dangerous for walkers for several years running.
Delran officials met with DOT representatives about two years ago to discuss improving safety on Route 130. At that time, the department allocated funding for police training and additional monitoring of the area.
"NJDOT takes the issue of pedestrian safety very seriously and has been working with state and local officials to improve the Route 130 corridor for many years," department spokesman Steve Schapiro said. "NJDOT looks forward to continuing to work with Assemblyman Singleton and other representatives on this important issue and will consider his recommendations for possible safety improvements to Route 130 in Delran."
The highway could use more safety measures for pedestrians and drivers than what was implemented years ago, Paris said. He would like to see the DOT re-evaluate right turns at red lights at some intersections and install more signs at crosswalks.
“It’s been a problem for several years now,” the mayor said. “We’re looking at anything we can do to make it safer.”
Along with its requests to the DOT, the municipality has implemented its own safety measures.
Last week, the Township Council approved the second and final phase of a $425,000 project that will add sidewalks along Route 130 from Taylors Lane to Fairview Boulevard, Paris said.
“Several times I’ve seen people walking in the street by Lowe’s and ShopRite,” he said. “The more we can get people out of the street, the better.”
Pedestrians cross Route 130 to get to busy shopping centers and neighborhoods along the corridor. DeVece was killed just blocks from his home behind the Millside Shopping Center.
“These are people that are crossing the street to get to work or the store,” Catrambone said. “It’s very sad. Nobody’s doing anything wrong.”