By George Mast - www.courierpostonline.com
Two legislators from Burlington County want to increase pedestrian safety on troubled roads such as Route 130 with stiffer traffic fines and increased funding for enforcement and safety programs.
A package of three bills introduced this month by Assemblymen Troy Singleton and Herb Conaway Jr., both Democrats, would raise fines and penalties for motorists who kill or seriously injure pedestrians or bicyclists. Fines also would increase for drivers cited in violations that involve pedestrians in intersections.
The additional revenue would be allocated as funding for traffic enforcement and pedestrian safety education, with an emphasis given to projects along notoriously dangerous roads such as 130.
The stretch of that highway through Burlington County has been the scene of more than a dozen pedestrian deaths since 2009. It has topped a transportation group’s list of the state’s most dangerous roads for pedestrians each of the last five years.
“For a variety of reasons, Route 130 in Burlington County has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the most dangerous corridors in our state,” Singleton said in a statement announcing the bills. “Since it was first constructed, changing demographics and population density have made it a hindrance to public safety.
“These bills will help raise awareness and boost education on pedestrian safety while funding improvements to make our highways more pedestrian-friendly.”
Under the bills, 10 percent of all fines collected through traffic violations across the state would be diverted to an existing state Department of Transportation fund for road and sidewalk improvements near schools.
Currently, revenue for most traffic offenses are divided by the municipality and county where the offense occurred.
Under the proposed legislation, at-fault drivers who kill or seriously injure certain people — including pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair operators and roadway workers — would be fined an additional $1,000 on top of existing penalties. The increased fine would be diverted into the “Pedestrian Safety Enforcement and Education Fund.”
Motorists’ fines for violations that involve a pedestrian in a crosswalk would be raised to $250 and a portion designated for a pedestrian safety and education fund. Current fines for the violations top out at $200.
While fatalities continue to be a problem on Route 130, the roadway has been the site of some safety improvements.
Over the last five years, the state finished at least four projects along the highway, including installing some new sidewalks in Cinnaminson, Delran and Burlington Township.
Along with introducing the legislation last week, Singleton and Conaway also announced new pedestrian safety grants for Burlington Township and Delran. Burlington Township will receive $160,000 from the state Department of Transportation for pedestrian access improvements along the riverfront promenade.
Delran will receive $250,000 for Route 130 sidewalk improvements.