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Cars drive north Tuesday afternoon on Grove Street, which has a 35 mph speed limit.
PHOTO BY KEVIN MEACHAM

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

Following a fatal accident on Grove Street, a county road, in June, the Township Council will discuss lowering the speed limit on that street to 30 mph at its first meeting in October. The limit is currently 35.

Residents can comment at the council’s Oct. 3 conference meeting, which will take place at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers.

If it is approved by the municipal governing body, the new speed limit will still require approval from Essex County.

“Typically, Bloomfield Avenue is the most dangerous street in Montclair, but this year, Grove Street has had twice as many pedestrian crashes as Bloomfield Avenue,” said Alexandra Kent, the coordinator of Drive With Care in Montclair, in a notice that was sent to the general public and to the media about the meeting.

Drive With Care Montclair is an initiative of the township’s Pedestrian Safety Committee, which was created in 2013 and is made up of representatives from the township police and engineering departments, Bike&Walk Montclair, Partners for Health Foundation, Montclair Safe Routes to School, and other entities.

Kent is the chair of the Pedestrian Safety Committee, whose next meeting will be on Nov. 14.

The letter from Drive with Care in Montclair said that in the first half of 2017, there were 21 pedestrian accidents in Montclair, and that Grove Street had the most such accidents, including one fatality.

In June, Mary DeFilippis, 73, a Montclair State University administrator, was out for an evening walk on June 7 near the intersection of Grove Street and Chester Road when a motor vehicle struck her.

DeFilippis’s death prompted a renewed discussion of pedestrian safety on Grove Street and other high-traffic streets in Montclair. In the weeks following the incident, the township asked PSE&G for lighting upgrades at several key intersections on Grove Street.

The Montclair Police Department reported that during the first half of 2017, there had been 16 pedestrian accidents, compared to 26 such accidents during the same time period in 2016.

Grove Street is a county road, and some of the improvements Montclair wants to make will require the approval of Essex County officials.
As of September, the county had either rejected or not returned comment on several items. According to a progress report provided by Kent, the county denied permission to install removable bollards at the corner of Oxford Street and Grove Street to prevent illegal parking.

As for a wider median on Grove Street, the township council has approved the painting of new median stripes, but the progress report indicated that the county had not yet responded to that request.

The township had considered putting in a new traffic light and a no-left-turn sign at Grove and Oxford, but the pedestrian safety committee report said that a township study had found that there was not enough traffic at that intersection to warrant either of those items.

Township Engineer Kimberli Craft could not be reached for comment for this article.

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