The Township has embarked on a large-scale sidewalk project along Plainfield Avenue, spanning the length of Plainfield between Mountain and Park avenues.
The Township was awarded a significant ($410,000) grant from New Jersey’s Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Safe Streets to Transit Program, which is paying for part of the project. This grant allows us to reconstruct and expand the sidewalk network along Plainfield, in front of Columbia Middle School (CMS) – a desperately needed project that will not only improve the walkability of this area, but it will also reduce pedestrian safety hazards and add sidewalks where currently there are none.
This sidewalk improvement project addresses significant existing gaps in the pedestrian network in this area. The goal is to safely connect different neighborhoods to the downtown, schools and train station. To that end, here’s what will happen in this area to make the sidewalks safer for students, commuters and the general public, with the major construction beginning in June when school lets out:
- A degrading asphalt path on the west side of Plainfield Avenue will be replaced with a new concrete sidewalk.
- Some trees that are ruining the sidewalk and causing safety concerns will be removed.
- Existing crosswalks will be repaired and properly aligned to connect the appropriate sidewalks.
- We will install new concrete sidewalk on the east side of Plainfield Avenue (between Roosevelt Avenue and Hamilton Avenue).
- We will install new concrete sidewalk on the west side of Plainfield Avenue (full length of the project limits), creating new and repairing existing crosswalks.
The state Department of Transportation approved the plan. The sidewalks cannot be build around existing trees in the Township or County right-of-way because the sidewalks themselves may then be encroaching onto private property. Also, if a sidewalk is built around a tree, it also likely will disturb the tree roots, could damage/kill the tree and potentially be a hazard to the public/private property, including pedestrians.
“Being able to execute this large-scale sidewalk project is a tremendous opportunity for our town,” said Mayor Angie Devanney. “Plainfield Avenue is a major artery in our town for not only vehicular traffic but for kids and commuters walking to the downtown area; residents in this area have been long waiting for improved sidewalks and safer routes in their neighborhoods, to the school and train. This project will deliver on that. We are excited to see it finally coming to fruition."
“Over the years, the Township has made investments in pedestrian safety around our schools, such as traffic calming devices, pedestrian walking signs, flashing pedestrian signs and stop signs,” added Council President Jeanne Kingsley, who applied for the grant. “CMS, Mountain Park, Hughes and Woodruff schools all received Gold Status from NJ’s Safe Routes to School Program, which encourages safe routes for kids to walk, bike or use other wheeled devices to get to school. This project is the next investment in such safety improvements.”
All residents who may be affected by the construction, may see a tree removed or have sidewalk work done, have been notified.
- Week of May 24 –Contractor (Cifelli & Son) will be on sight Wednesday and Thursday to start work. "No Parking" signs will be posted in the area from the Mountain Avenue & Plainfield Avenue intersection down to Rogers Place beginning May 25. Tree removal will begin Thursday, May 27. Trees scheduled to be taken down, some of which are uprooting sidewalks and/or causing a hazard to pedestrians, will be removed. No work on Friday, May 28.
- Week of May 31 – Work will resume Tuesday, June 1. Residents from Mountain Avenue to Rogers place were given notification of the work being done, directly from Cifelli & Son.
Please see our website bit.ly/BHSafeStreets (cap sensitive) for more project information, including maps and exact locations where trees will be removed, sidewalk added or repaired.
This project is important for our efforts to increase safe walkability of our residents in this area, yet it also will be a long project spanning the summer. This is why the contractor had to start some of the work before school lets out, to ensure it is completed by the time kids go back to school in the Fall.
The Township would be happy to replace trees for those residents interested in a replanting. All trees are at least 7-8 feet tall at planting; they are not saplings. If you are one of the residents getting a tree removed in front or side of your property that is in the Township right of way, and would like a tree replanted on your property, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your cooperation and patience during this long-awaited project!
May 27 Update:
We know there was heavy congestion around the area of Columbia Middle School this morning; partly because Roosevelt Avenue is also shut down because of work being done on that road. The Berkeley Heights Police Department will have officers posted at the intersections of Hamilton & Plainfield, as well as of Hamilton & Snyder, on Thursday May 27 when school lets out. Parents, please give yourselves extra time during pickup.
In addition, the BHPD contacted the contractor and they have agreed to wait to start every morning until 8:30 am, after school dropoff at CMS. This should alleviate some of the traffic issues experienced this morning. BHPD will monitor the situation next week after the holiday, if/when Roosevelt is reopened, to determine if continued police postings are necessary. Thank you for your patience and constructive feedback!