By TALIA WIENER
Essex County has started work to update 12 intersections along Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair, in a project that will bring new signs, crosswalks and signaling systems to the township’s main thoroughfare.
The project — which should be complete by May 2022 — was first detailed in 2019, part of an effort to overhaul 40 intersections throughout several Essex County communities using $15 million of federal funding. Construction had originally been described as wrapping up in 2021, but Essex County Engineer Sanjeev Varghese told Montclair Local the work saw delays because the federal Department of Transportation’s Office of Civil Rights didn’t approve a subcontractor previously attached to the work.
Varghese said the work was split into three projects. The construction in Montclair, described by municipal and county officials at a press conference Monday, is part of the third of those. The other two are nearly complete, Varghese said.
“It’s more than just a brick and mortar project,” Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill said at the press conference Monday. “This is about how we’re going to flow the traffic, how we’re going to make it more pedestrian-friendly, how we’re going to continue to see the revitalization of our downtown.”
Bloomfield Avenue is officially part of County Route 506. The intersection work includes a 1.2-mile section beginning at the intersection of N. Mountain and St. Mountain avenues to the intersection of Maple Avenue and Pine Street.
The improvements are funded through a grant from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, ultimately originating from the Federal Highway Administration’s Local and Rural Road Safety Program. The county will pay $1.3 million to KS Engineers for design and inspection services and $6.7 million to Trench Technologies for construction. The grant also supports work on nine intersections along Park Avenue in East Orange, county spokesman Anthony Puglisi said.
Mayor Sean Spiller and Montclair officials met with county officials to go over each intersection slated for improvements, focusing on how to create traffic patterns that are efficient and mindful of residents, Spiller said.
“It’s really about partnership,” Spiller said at the press conference. “We’re gonna replace some traffic lights, but it’s way more than that. We’re gonna improve our community along the way.”
Traffic signals will be installed at the intersection of Bloomfield Avenue and Midland Avenue. Pedestrian crosswalk signals, equipped with backup power in case of power failures, will be installed at the intersection of Bloomfield Avenue and Seymour Street.
The other 10 intersections will receive new poles and overhead traffic lights equipped with LED bulbs. Additional upgrades include new pedestrian crosswalk signals, new roadway striping and signage. Sidewalks and curbing at the intersections will be repaired or replaced where necessary, according to the county.
Varghese said new control systems — the “brains” behind traffic lights — will be in place.
“Everything is new,” he said.
The 12 intersections receiving upgrades are at N. and S. Mountain Avenues; Orange Road and Bell Street; Valley Road; Midland Avenue; Park Street; N. and S. Fullerton Avenues; Church Street and Glenridge Avenue (known as the “Five Corners” intersection); Seymour Street; N and S. Willow Street; Gates Avenue and Lackawanna Plaza; Elm Street and Grove Street; Hartley Street; and Maple Avenue and Pine Street.