Residents who regularly cross the intersections of Edgemere Avenue, Parkway Avenue, Plainsboro Road, and Pond View Drive — the heart of Plainsboro’s Village area — are miffed. They say that speeders and motorists who use stop signs as yield signs are placing pedestrians in harm’s way and that Plainsboro Township is not enforcing its own traffic laws. ##M:[more]##

At the Township Committee meeting on October 13, residents presented a petition with 100 signatures demanding that the township do something about it. “Speeding along Edgemere Avenue is excessive and there have been numerous times at Pond View when cars did not stop and have almost hit pedestrians,” said Connie Sohl, a lifelong Plainsboro resident who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Les Corliss, who has lived in Plainsboro since 1964, was also at the meeting to lend his support. “People are angry and they want something done about it,” he said. “This is not a new problem but has been going on for years.” Next to him sat his daughter, Terry Kimmelman, who initiated the petition.

Responding to the complaints at the meeting, Cliff Maurer, Plainsboro’s director of public safety, explained that traffic officers do set up in the area to nab speeders on a regular basis. Each month the police department is presented with a “hit list” of streets that inform traffic enforcement officers where to set up radar and look for speeders. “But the officers will not stay the entire day,” said Maurer, saying that if he only writes one ticket in an hour he will go to another location on the list where he can write more tickets.

But the residents say that township efforts to stymie speeders have had little effect. In fact, the problem has only gotten worse. As the population has increased in Plainsboro over the past seven years more cars are using Edgemere as a connection from Plainsboro to Maple on their way to the train station in West Windsor. “The problem exists 24/7,” says Sohl. “But morning and evening are the very worst.”

In a phone interview after the meeting, Maurer told the News that Plainsboro is taking a business-as-usual approach to the residents’ concerns. “We are not handling this any differently than we would any other complaint,” he says. According to Maurer the township has already begun measures to improve the situation including trimming the trees to make road signs more visible in the area, replacing worn street signs with high-intensity signs, repainting crosswalks, and building new sidewalks at the upper and lower end of Edgemere Avenue to help in traffic calming, and he says that consideration is being given to reducing the speed limit to 25 miles-per-hour.

Maurer also says that announcements of selective traffic enforcement of the area will be placed on the township’s cable channel bulletin board and the emergency E-mail network that informs major corporations in the area of emergency conditions will also include notices of selective enforcement. In addition a traffic light will be installed at the intersection of Dey Road, Plainsboro Road, and Edgemere Avenue in 2005.

Cantu says that residents can be assured that Plainsboro government is taking the situation seriously. “We share a concern for traffic enforcement with the residents of the area,” says Cantu. “More aggressive traffic enforcement is underway and we would like to measure the effectiveness of the enforcement.”

At the meeting Sohl suggested that the township more rigorously enforce its speed laws. “In townships like Cranbury and Allentown they set up radar traps along their main streets and people would not dare speed in those areas because they know they are going to get a ticket,” she said.

Mayor Peter Cantu then told the residents that there are no simple solutions to the problem, saying that traffic enforcement must be continued, they must look to see if signage and crosswalk designation is adequate, and that a survey must be taken in order to see what impact the township’s efforts are having on the problem. “We need a comprehensive program,” said Cantu. He said that it would likely take a couple months in order to come up with some answers.

But the residents weren’t satisfied. “We didn’t like the answer that the mayor gave us at the meeting,” says Kimmelman. “Why do they need to do a study? All you have to do is stand outside for a few minutes and watch the cars to see how bad it is.”

Kimmelman, who has lived most of her life in Plainsboro, is now in the process of building a house in south Jersey, says that it’s frustrating for her and her two small kids. “How can you tell your kids who want to ride their bikes along the street that they have to stop here or else a car might lose control and wipe them out?”

“The problem is most critical at Parkway and Edgemere,” says Corliss. “(Those cars) blow through those signs like they don’t exist. Now (Cantu) says he wants to do a survey, but a survey was done by the 100 people who signed the petition. What more does he want? And he never looked at the petition at the meeting. If anything happens now it is all a part of public record.”

Sohl says that she is also frustrated with the red tape the residents must go through. “Do they have to wait until someone is killed before something is done?” she says. She says that with the Wicoff Elementary School in the area, and High School North, Community Middle School, and Millstone River School not far away, many young people are being put at risk. “The track team from North jogs down this road all the time,” she says. “People need to be made to drive 35, not 55 miles-per-hour.”

Despite assurance from Plainsboro government, residents are taking a wait-and-see approach. Sohl says that sitting in her home along Edgemere, she can hear traffic driving along the road. “You can hear those drivers as they cross Dey Road,” she says. “They put their pedal down to the floor and let it fly.”