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Singleton, Conaway & DeAngelo Bill to Protect Pedestrians in School Zones Clears Assembly Committee
'Antwan's Law' Memorializes Teen Killed on Route 130 Near Burlington City High School
Legislation Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Herb Conaway and Wayne DeAngelo sponsored to make roadways safer for pedestrians was advanced Thursday by an Assembly committee.
The bill (A-4335/4336/4337), to be known as "Antwan's Law," would allow counties and municipalities to establish reduced speed limits near schools. The measure follows the death of 17-year-old Antwan Timbers, Jr., who was struck and killed by a vehicle in May 2016 as he walked along Route 130.
"Antwan's tragic death was a painful incident that underscores what the data on Route 130 has shown for years. Whether they're going to school or to get a slice of pizza with friends, our kids are in danger every time they cross this roadway," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "This measure will not only be impactful in the community of Burlington, but in other areas across the state where children face a similar hazard near their schools."
Route 130 is one of the most dangerous roadways in the state for pedestrians, according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. The portion of Route 130 in Burlington City is in close proximity to Burlington City High School and the Wilbur Watts Intermediate School, in addition to several popular commercial entities.
The measure would allow a county or municipality to designate a reduced speed limit on a county or municipal road directly adjacent to a school, which shall be reasonable, safe, and in effect at all times. The county or municipality would not be required to seek approval from the Department of Transportation prior to reducing the speed limit.
The legislation also would allow the DOT commissioner to designate a reduced speed limit on any state road directly adjacent to a school, provided that the county or municipality in which the school is located adopts a resolution or ordinance requesting a reduced speed limit on that portion of the road.
Currently, DOT sets speed limits for state roads, with designated exceptions for school zones. Along Route 130, for example, the speed limit is 25 mph when the presence of children is clearly visible from the roadway during recess, or while children are going to or leaving school during opening or closing hours in the area around Burlington City High School and the Wilbur Watts Intermediate School, but is otherwise 40 mph in that area.
"No student should feel like his or her life in danger while walking to and from school during the week or going to the convenience store on the weekend, but that's the reality for many Burlington students," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "In honor of Antwan and all those who have tragically lost their lives on Route 130, our state has a duty to make roadways safer for pedestrians."
"Local officials are more familiar than the Department of Transportation when it comes to traffic patterns and the risks pedestrians and bicyclists face in their neighborhoods every day," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Putting counties and municipalities at the forefront of decisions about speed limits would be a step forward for public safety in New Jersey."
The measure was advanced by the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee.
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