Essex County, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced on Thursday, January 14th that Essex County has received two grants totaling about $8.3 million from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority’s 2016-2017 Local Safety Program. The grants will be used to improve 22 intersections in Newark with new equipment, striping and signage. The upgrades will enhance pedestrian and motor vehicle safety while helping to improve the flow of traffic. The projects are part of the County Executive’s ongoing initiative to modernize infrastructure.

“All of the intersections that will be improved through these grants have historically been unsafe for pedestrians. The installation of new modern equipment, LED lights, signage and striping along two major corridors and very busy intersections will enhance safety for all those on the street – pedestrians and motorists – which always has been our highest priority,” DiVincenzo said. “We thank the NJTPA for recognizing this great need and allocating the grant funding to help Essex County make our roadways safer,” he added.

The first grant of $6.17 million will be used to improve pedestrian safety, create left turn lanes for motor vehicles and enhance the overall operation of 18 intersections along Lyons Avenue and Chancellor Avenue, both in Newark. Lyons Avenue is on the NJTPA’s list of Top 25 Regional High Crash Pedestrian Corridors and both thoroughfares have several intersections that experience higher than average accidents involving pedestrians and accidents involving vehicles making left turns. In the grant award, the NJTPA states the accidents are the result of inadequate signals and lack of guidance for pedestrians.

The second grant of $2.17 million will be used to improve safety at four intersections in Newark, including Stuyvesant Avenue and 18th Avenue, South Orange Avenue and Bergen Street, Park Avenue and Clifton Avenue, and Broadway and 3rd Avenue. These intersections rank among the top 20 intersections with high rates of accidents involving pedestrians, which the NJTPA attributes to inadequate pedestrian signals and motorists not paying attention to pedestrians. The improvements include new traffic signals, left turn lanes, pedestrian countdown signals with increased times to cross the road, high visibility crosswalks, handicap accessible curb ramps, new signage, and striping.

Essex County is scheduled to complete the design of both projects by the end of 2016 and begin construction of the improvements in the spring of 2017.

The NJTPA is the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for 13 northern New Jersey counties. Under Federal legislation, MPOs provide a forum where local officials, public transportation providers and state agency representatives can come together and cooperatively plan to meet the region’s current and future transportation needs. It establishes the region’s eligibility to receive Federal tax dollars for transportation projects.

The NJTPA Board consists of one local elected official from each of the 13 counties in the region (Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren), and the cities of Newark and Jersey City. The Board also includes a Governor’s Representative, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the Executive Directors of NJ Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and a Citizen’s Representative appointed by the Governor.