23 Aug 2014
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Ridge Traffic Task Force Could Report in Late March

School Board President Susan McGowan said at Monday's meeting that group is compiling several options.

Ridge Traffic Task Force Could Report in Late March Ridge Traffic Task Force Could Report in Late March

A specially appointed task force made of school and township officials to examine potential solutions for relieving morning traffic at Ridge High School could come out with a report by late March, said school officials.

School Board President Susan McGowan, a member of the task force said at Monday's Board of Education meeting that the task force is at the point of compiling a report outlining "several" options.

"We we are going to report will be a variety of things," McGowan said. She said the options for solutions then will be presented to the public.

Schools Superintendent Nick Markarian said the report could be ready for a presentation by the second meeting in March, which is on the schedule for 7 p.m. on March 28 at the Performing Arts Center at Ridge High School.

The task force has been meeting regularly, and plans to meet again on Wednesday morning, McGowan said.

Although most of their meetings have not been public, the task force held an open forum in December to collect residents' input on suggested ways to relieve morning traffic jams and improve traffic flow on school days.

"We are going to look at the pros and cons of every option," Mayor Carolyn Gaziano, another member of the task force, said at that time.

The longstanding issue of traffic jams by the Ridge entrance at the intersection of South Finley Avenue and Lake Road came to a forefront last February, when the administration began diverting buses carrying Ridge students through Homestead Village to the parking lot at Cedar Hill Elementary School.

The rear entrance to the high school can be reached from the adjoining Cedar Hill school property.

Grove Road resident Andi Williams again told the task force in December that the situation is dangerous, especially since students and other neighbors walk along narrow streets in the morning. She said that snow could soon cover the sidewalks that do exist, forcing walkers into the street.

Buses traveling down the road toward the high school go fast, she said.

"It's going to take a accident or worse before it changes," Williams said of the bus routing through Homestead Village to Cedar Hill.

In the past, members of the Township Committee have opposed another suggestion to allow traffic to enter the high school campus one way through the municipal complex at 1 Collyer Lane. Instead, township officials have said that the school district should solve its own traffic problem on the school property, although access has already been granted through the township health department driveway off South Finley Avenue.

Speakers at the December forum looked unfavorably on plans along South Finley that would further impact homeowners living right near the high school.

Another Homestead Village resident, Christina Ehret, said did not favor another proposal for a "blackout" period during which only buses could enter the high school because she said that will only drive more private vehicles through the alternate entrance behind Cedar Hill.

Another South Finley Avenue resident, Parag Dhagat, said he would oppose a plan along South Finley that would lead to taking further property from immediate neighbors for a supposed solution included in a report from Dean and Dolan Traffic Engineers issued last June.

Gaziano said after the December meeting that the task force would again at the use of the municipal complex as one of the options.

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