By DON STINE
A proposal to permanently close the railroad crossing at Allen Avenue in Allenhurst brought more than two dozen borough residents to this week’s Board of Commissioners meeting.
The state Department of Transportation and NJ Transit are planning to close the Allen Avenue railroad crossing between Main Street and Lake Drive. NJT updated the Spier and Corlies Avenue crossings, the only other railroad crossings in the borough, last year at a cost of about $500,000 each and it has been conducting traffic studies on Allen Avenue.
Those attending the meeting this week said closing the crossing it presents a safety and traffic hazard and that people, especially teenagers, will find some way to cross the railroad tracks there no matter what.
“I can’t imagine an untended crossing there. It’s a tragedy waiting to happen,” resident Deirdre Vignone said.
She said closing the crossing may open up liability issues for the state and NJT.
Other residents said that children use a basketball court close to the crossing, agreeing that it is an accident waiting to happen.
A study of traffic at the crossing, both vehicular and pedestrian, was completed in July by NJT but it will not release the study’s results so borough officials are requesting them through an OPRA request.
Borough officials said they will be heading to Trenton at the end of this month with other area officials, including Rep.Frank Pallone Jr., to convince the state not to close the crossing.
“We will try our best. We have let them know we do not want it closed,” Mayor David J. McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said the borough has also ordered its own traffic study and is looking into the original easements the borough granted to NJT for the crossing to see if there is any wording that will prevent its closing.
The borough’s emergency services, like fire and police, will also be doing a further study on the matter.
Commissioner Christopher McLoughlin said that the crossing is also located in the borough’s designated redevelopment zone that is scheduled for improvements in the near future.
“We don’t want them to do this since we don’t know what will be happening there,” he said.
Dense summertime traffic and the potential to back traffic up on Main Street are also concerns.
Residents are being urged to write letters opposing the closing to: Todd Hunt/ Supervising Engineer, NJDOT Bureau of Railroad Engineering, 1035 Parkway Avenue, Trenton, NJ 08625.
The mayor said that business owners should also consider issuing a collective statement opposing the closing.