Home Essex County Proposal Approved to Reduce Speed Limits in Montclair: What to Know

Proposal Approved to Reduce Speed Limits in Montclair: What to Know

by Stephanie Spear
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The Essex County Board of Directors has approved a proposal that will reduce the speed limits on county-owned roadways in Montclair. A stretch of road on Upper Mountain Avenue has now been reduced to a 25MPH speed limit from 35MPH. This is the first of several roadways that will be changed under a new agreement between Montclair Township and Essex County. Read on to learn more about the changes and what Montclair residents can expect.

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History of the Change

At the February 21st, 2024 meeting, the Essex County Board of Directors approved a change to speed limits on certain roadways in Montclair. The immediate change impacts a 300-foot section of county-owned roadway. From Bloomfield Avenue to Jerome Place, the speed limit was reduced from 35MPH to 25MPH. From Jerome to the border with Little Falls it was reduced from 30MPH to 25MPH. The signs are already visible, new 25MPH signs have been dug into the ground along Upper Mountain Avenue.

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Even though residents had been asking for the change for some time, the township needed to coordinate with the county based on who owns and maintains the roadways. In November 2023, the Montclair Township Council proposed a resolution initiating the process of the two entities working together. The resolution asked the County to lower all County-owned roads to a 25MPH speed limit.

The proposal gained final approval in December 2023. While there are 15 total roadways or sections of roadways that will eventually get lower speed limits, this section of Upper Mountain Avenue is the first to go through the revision.



Roadway Safety in Montclair

Montclair’s Vision Zero task force was approved in May 2023. Vision Zero is a comprehensive roadway safety plan that is used by many cities nationwide. The goal of Montclair’s task force is to eliminate all pedestrian deaths by 2028. Some of the efforts in Montclair will include a multi-year study on roadway safety, making recommendations on what improvements the city needs, implementing Complete Streets recommendations, and applying for federal grants to implement safety measures.

According to Montclair Local, there were 47 pedestrian strikes and 14 bicycle strikes in 2022. A pedestrian was struck and killed on Valley Road in January 2021, and there have been two other traffic-related deaths since 2017.

A Montclair woman was killed in a pedestrian accident in October 2023 at the intersection of Park Street and Bellevue Avenue. Another Montclair resident was injured in a pedestrian accident at Bellevue and North Mountain Avenues in December 2023.

Neighbors have been vocal on the issue of roadway safety, formally starting a petition in November 2023 to lower the speed limits in town. Organizers want a deeper commitment from town leaders to enact Vision Zero plans, more enforcement of speed limits, and lower speed limits. They also want more funding for pedestrian safety, noting that more money has gone to repaving roads than pedestrian safety. 

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At a Township Council meeting in early February 2024, Montclair Police shared information about the incidences of crashes and fatalities. For the past 15 years, the number of motor vehicular crashes in Montclair has consistently fallen within the range of 1,300 to 1,500 annually. In 2023, there were 1,361 crashes. In 2014, Montclair saw its highest number, with a total of 1,505 accidents recorded, according to Montclair Local. Officers also reported that most pedestrian incidents occur during daylight hours in dry weather and that increased development in Montclair has not correlated to increased incidents.

Organizers of the Montclair Bike Bus, a community-driven effort to advocate for safe biking, shared the following statement with The Montclair Girl:

“Montclair Bike Bus has advocated for this speed limit change and we are fully in support of it. The small 5 MPH decrease in speed from 30 MPH to 25 MPH leads to significant safety gains for pedestrians and cyclists. Vehicles’ stopping distance shrinks by 45 feet so that many crashes can be avoided altogether, and pedestrians who are struck are less than half as likely to die. This change is but the first step, and we urge the town to follow up with traffic calming and people-first street design to support the slower speeds. We also hope the town will adopt further reductions in school zones to 15-20 MPH.”

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