Millburn Township began a four-week construction project, stretching from Spring Street to Douglas Street along Millburn Avenue, on Monday. The work is the last piece of Phase I of Millburn Township’s Complete Streets program that improves the safety and livability of the downtown area. This project, along a short stretch of Millburn Avenue, will improve pedestrian safety for students at Washington School and Millburn High School while enhancing sidewalk accessibility by making the area compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“We recognize that the timing of this last portion of construction of Phase I is not ideal. The timing, however, is a result of careful review by the Ad Hoc Committee and its recommendations to the Township Committee, based on feedback from our community members. We are looking forward to the completion of Phase I of the project while we carefully consider the next phase. I want to thank each and every person in Millburn for their patience and understanding while we work to complete Phase I,” says Millburn Township Mayor Cheryl Burstein.
The goal of this last piece of the project is to establish an aesthetic and inviting entrance into downtown Millburn while improving pedestrian safety.
Crews will work in the area Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM ET while being cognizant of school traffic; deliveries to the contractor will be limited to the hours of 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM ET. There will be no lane closures and traffic flow will not be disrupted or detoured. Police officers will be on site during critical periods of construction to assist pedestrians crossing the street.
The scope of improvements includes increasing the size of the existing pedestrian safety island at the intersection of Douglas Street and Millburn Avenue, making the crossing distance shorter for pedestrians. It will also create safer crossing conditions for students who make the daily trek to Millburn High School along Millburn Avenue.
In addition to the enlarged pedestrian safety island on Douglas Street, the corner curb will be adjusted to provide space for an ADA-compliant curb ramp and improve pedestrian visibility. Lastly, adjustments will be made on Millburn Avenue between Douglas Street and Spring Street. Improvements will include new sidewalks, ADA-compliant driveway aprons, street trees, landscaping, bicycle racks and improved crosswalks. Particular care will be taken to facilitate easy traffic flow to the new fifth grade Washington School for cars and buses.
“The work being done along Millburn Avenue makes me feel much safer as a pedestrian and a parent. I am happy the township is prioritizing the safety of its residents, especially after all the accidents we’ve seen here,” says Adam Goldberg, a resident of Millburn Township for more than 11 years, with two children who are nine and seven years old.
“The Complete Streets project has made the town safer for our customers. New sidewalks and safer crosswalks will lead to increased foot traffic in our store. We are excited to see the new life this project will bring to the downtown area as we continue to grow our business in Millburn,” says Kevin Schmidt, general manager of Playa Bowls, located on Millburn Avenue off Main Street.
The Complete Streets policy was adopted by the Township Committee in 2014 to update functionally obsolete downtown infrastructure and make roadways and sidewalks safer for motorists and pedestrians. $8.2 million was bonded for the first phase of the project in 2016. From 2013 to 2016, Millburn saw 117 accidents, with 19 of those involving pedestrians, where Millburn Avenue and Essex Street intersect with Main Street.
Two years of extensive planning and engineering research went into the Complete Streets project with multi-disciplinary design professionals from Arterial, LLC expert traffic analysis by Sam Schwartz Engineering and recommendations from the township engineering department, local police and fire departments, and Essex County. The project also includes feedback from multiple public open houses where residents shared safety and traffic flow concerns.
Phase I of construction began in July 2016. A stretch of Main Street, between Essex Street and Millburn Avenue, was transformed into a downtown event space that can host festivals, concerts and more. The new “event street” features widened sidewalks, a concrete roadbed and overhead string lighting. Millburn Avenue was then improved to include wider sidewalks, fresh landscaping with more than 40 new street trees, corner bump-outs and high-visibility crosswalks. Modern traffic signals and timing were also incorporated into the design to improve traffic flow.
Additionally, a new road called Town Hall Plaza was created to serve as a connection between Essex Street and Millburn Avenue to help ease traffic and improve the shopping experience and commercial viability in this area.
“Creating walkable and vibrant downtowns is the trend across the country – and with this project, Millburn is ahead of the curve. While we recognize that it is still very early, we are very optimistic about the impact it is having already,” says David Lustberg, CEO and Principal of Arterial, LLC. “In addition to the pedestrian safety aspects, the project provides a canvas for the town and merchants to use to energize the downtown through creative place making, pedestrian activity and events.”
To address parking concerns and impacts expressed by residents and store owners, Millburn Township added 15-minute free parking spaces in Zone C on Millburn Avenue. The township also improved upon a Smartphone app, MPay2Park This app allows motorists to easily pay for parking on their phones, eliminating time spent at parking meters. Convenience fees were removed from the app.
About the Complete Streets Program