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Traffic Impact of United Water Development

Hekemian expert speaks to proposed development's impact on traffic.

Elizabeth "Betsy" Dolan, a traffic engineer hired by Hekemian to analyze the traffic impact and trip generation of the proposed development of the United Water property, appeared before the zoning board of adjustment Tuesday to provide testimony on the traffic study she prepared for the proposed site. 

The analysis, prepared by her firm, Dolan & Dean Consulting Engineers LLC of Martinsville, assesses the existing infrastructure in the vicinity of the site, identifies existing traffic patterns, and projects future traffic volumes. Also included in the analysis is an assessment of future roadway and intersection conditions surrounding the site of the proposed development.

The focus of Dolan's testimony was on her analysis of River Road in the area of and the intersections of River Road, Cecchino Drive and Main Street, and Madison Avenue and Cecchino Drive and Main Street and studied over the course of one year. Dolan relied on established traffic patterns and trip generations published by the Institute of Traffic Engineering (ITE) in preparing her analysis. 

According to Dolan, the traffic estimates she relied upon in the preparation of her analysis were obtained through ITE's supermarket land use category, along with ITE's category for drive-thru banks and for apartments where estimates of trip generations for land uses the size and scope of the proposed development are available.  

In addition to using those estimates, Dolan also studied current traffic patterns along River Road in the vacinity of the high school at the following hours during the month of September 2011 and February, March and April 2012:

  • Monday through Friday 7am-9am;  2pm to 4pm; and 4pm to 6pm.
  • 1pm to 2pm Saturday

Dolan looked at the following peak hours during the week:

  • 7pm to  9pm summarized peak hour at each intersection
  • 2pm to 4pm 
  • 4pm to 6pm

Dolan also looked at Saturday from 11am to 2pm.

The study determined that with the addition of traffic generated by the proposed development, the levels of service and delay for the River Road, Cecchino Drive and the Madison Avenue intersections will not cause any change in service. It was determined that all approaches will operate at "acceptable levels of service or better with the addition of site traffic." 

Dolan indicated in her testimony that the combination of existing street volume and site generated traffic is "not that high." She also said that because the plans call for more than one ingress and egress site -- there will be two on River Road, one on Main Street and one on Madison Avenue -- the traffic will not be forced through any one exit. With no individual driveway being burdened, she said that there will not be any disruption in the flow of traffic.

According to the study, peak hour traffic counts were conducted during anticipated peak periods of the proposed development's operation. Based on the proposed retail and residential uses of the site, the study anticipates that peak driveway activity will be during weekday mornings and evenings, and midday Saturday.

Because New Milford High School is situated adjacent to the proposed development, additional traffic counts were performed to identify peak volumes involving school traffic.  

Based on her study, Dolan said that although there would be an increase in traffic with development, there would be no real increase in pedestrian traffic.

Regarding parking, the number of spots for the residential portion of the proposed development (428) exceeds the number required by the borough's ordinance (426). The parking spots allotted for the proposed supermarket do not meet the number of spots required by the borough's ordinance -- one parking spot for every 150 square feet of commercial space.

However, Dolan suggested that this formula is high for retail space; in her experience the formula is typically four to five parking spaces for every 1000 square feet of building area, which is approximately one spot for every 200 square feet. 

Dolan said that even though the number of parking spaces being proposed for the supermarket does not meet the borough ordinance, it is consistent with other land use applications of this type and exceeds the current supermarket demand.

Dolan said that she had made some revisions to her initial report that she will provide to the board at a later date. 

anonymous1 August 16, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Obviously this traffic engineer has never seen the mad scramble at the end of the school days in which all of Ceccino drive empties out and every vehicle tries to get out of that singular intersection with the added traffic from parents picking up students in the circle. She stated that the peak use times for the school and for the shoprite are at the exact times (7-9,2-6) which would make a traffic hell for anyone trying to get into that area of town which would be dangerous not just for pedestrians trying to cross river road, but also for our emergency services. I see Holy Name Ambulance or NMFD trying to get through the area in front of the high school during the high traffic hours right after school gets out and taking a good 2 1/2 minutes to get from Madison to Milford. That time counts if there's a fire or someone going into cardiac arrest. If this amount time would be extended with added traffic, there would be no way to get down river road. Therefore making it nearly impossible for emergency services to pass.
TommyIce August 16, 2012 at 01:05 PM
I would like to know where they located their person who performed the counts. I only ever saw someone at the intersection of Demarest and River Road (backed into that little drive entrance to the Suez property). Is the raw data from this "study" available to the general populace for inspection, confirmation or rebuttal? Really? No increased traffic? Has anyone ever taken a look at the Main Street/River Road intersection at the 7-9am and 4-7pm time frames? If even one car wants to make a left off of Main onto River Road, the traffic is backed up to the Valley National Bank (Summit Ave--half way between River & Blvd). Oh Anonymous, don't you fret none about the EMS vehicles--the new fire house positioned at the old ShopRite locale should be able to skirt all the traffic at the north end of town. Of course if the new ShopRite or 221 housing units are on fire, then well I guess they're screwed.Oh well, live and learn. All snarkiness aside, the Zoning Board cited increased traffic as one of the reasons for denying the church application for the old racquetball club. That is increased traffic on ONE day during a four hour window. The Heikemian pillaging will be increased traffic at ALL times of the day, EVERY day of the week. Why are OUR elected officials DOING this to US? What benefit is there (for the town or them personally)?
Darlene August 16, 2012 at 03:16 PM
It's not at all surprising that an expert hired by Hekemian gives testimony that favors Hekemian, but this expert not only finds that our traffic will not be impacted, it will actually get BETTER! This is miraculous! If only we had known that traffic going by a currently vacant parcel would be made better by building a bank, a four story apartment building and a gargantuan shopping center there, we might have considered it years ago. We should look for any other vacant lots in town and build something crazy big there so that traffic flow can improve. And besides this, to say that there will be NO real increase in pedestrian traffic really just defies all logic.
Em August 16, 2012 at 03:44 PM
So according to Hekemian...this development would solve our flooding, increase home value, solve our COAH responsiblities, improve traffic, and lower our taxes! Hahahaha
Ulises August 16, 2012 at 03:48 PM
All these so called experts are payed to say whatever benefits their client. I'm sure if Dolan was hired by the town she'd say the total opposite. The sad part, I'm sure some members of our Mayor & Council are happy to hear this analysis since some want to move the ShopRite along the river.
Lori Barton August 16, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Here we go again! More flawed information from a Hekemian "expert." I have to wonder if Ms. Dolan was given incorrect info regarding the size of our existing ShopRite or if she tried to slip that in on her own. All of her data concerning the traffic patterns at our existing ShopRite did not take into account that so many people have stopped going there because it is an unsafe, unhygienic store. But more importantly, her data was based on the existing ShopRite being 62,000 sq. ft. NEWSFLASH: The existing ShopRite is LESS THAN HALF that size. One call to our tax assessor and I was informed that the existing ShopRite is actually 34,176 sq. ft. Additionally, Saturday is not as big a supermarket day as Sunday in a county where Blue Laws are still in effect. This, like all of Hekemian's other "expert reports," was created with a bias toward the developer. What they fail to realize is that we have brains and we are not going away. SOD!!
Gail A. August 16, 2012 at 06:06 PM
One thing that the concerned citizens of New Milford could do is stand at the intersections in question and conduct their own counts, if this hasn't already been done. The volunteers can do this in shifts and I am willing to do my share. This is one way we can attempt to refute the testimony of the so-called "expert" witness.
Tony August 16, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Ulises you hit the nail right on the head man. All of these charades from Dipple and now Dolan are really a big insult to our intelligence and turns the whole municipal process into smoke and mirrors.
Tony August 16, 2012 at 07:00 PM
The way things currently stand, Hekemian could hire someone to make a case that the earth is flat and we'd still be subjected to it at Borough Hall in the name of due process.
Tony August 16, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Gail, you've got a great idea there. My house is right on the corner of River and Milford. I'll try and look into setting up a surveillance camera to gather some real proof. Interesting that this analysis isn't being done while school is in session.
miriam pickett August 16, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I agree that we should do our own count. The problem is that Hekemian's lawyer will say it is inadmissable as testimony. He has actually been able to keep pictures of flooding out of the piblic record and I'm sure he'll figure out a way to stop us. I believe she testified that ShopRite was monitered on Tuesday. I have a feeling Tuesday is the slowest day of the week.. Does anyone know how we can verify this? She didn't say anything at all about the intersection of Madison and New Milford Ave. by the waterworks building. Rush hour at that intersection can be hell. So many questions. You've got to grt to the BOA meeting and voice them in publuc. SOD!!!
jimmy August 16, 2012 at 08:59 PM
I think she is giving what the zoning board wants to hear. I live on the north end of new Milford and when school is starting or ending it takes me close o 20 minutes o get to new bridge road. Not to mention the amount of traffic that is on main street early in the morning going to 7-11 or P -convenience store.,traffic is a problem now, especially with those no left turn signs on main street, which by the way is a huge inconvenience. I think the people of new ,ilford(SOD) need to bring in their own expert on traffic.
TommyIce August 16, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Not only an inconvenience, they are most likely illegal. Check with the state DOT if the boro received approval for them. If not, the are not enforceable.
Barbara August 16, 2012 at 11:43 PM
People can say anything they want. Simple common sense tells us this expert is skewing the truth.
Frances Lando August 17, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Seriously????? This was said with a straight face??
Paige August 17, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Too bad you can not go to Shoprite and ask for their Tuesday sales figures and staffing levels. They also said that Dolan relied on established traffic patterns and trip generations published by the Institute of Traffic Engineering (ITE). On the (ITE) website it clearly states: "To produce this valuable reference, ITE relies on the voluntary submittal of data from the transportation community." Voluntary submittal - kind of like Wikipedia. My children can not use Wikipedia as a reference in their school reports because it is based on this type of voluntary submittal. Interesting that an expert can rely on that as basis for her expert analysis.
miriam pickett August 17, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Getting experts costs money. If you are against this application and want to see it defeated, go to www.sodnow.org and make a contribution so that we can hire the experts we will need to win this battle.

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