Residents who live along Newark Street can all agree on one thing - the road between Willow and Jackson has turned into a high speed mess. Ask anyone trying to cross Newark and you are literally playing with your life, cars constantly ignore pedestrians at crosswalks and zip down the street often breaking our 25 per mile speed limits. Cars ignore stop signs constantly, and it is only getting worse.
First, the changes to Observer Highway has caused residents to realize that it is easier to speed down Newark Street than use Observer. Observer Highway is a failure. It is an example of Dawn patting people on their heads with her stats and telling us "We know better than you". It smacks of something from the Clinton Playbook, how they tell us how the world works. We all know that we need to scrap the single lane solution on Observer. It isn't working Mrs. Mayor.
Second, there's very little police presence on Newark Street - a perfect example is how I have been reporting buses parked on the Neumann Leather sidewalk since July 2014, and very little has been done about it. I told the police, just go there at 6:45am - 7am every morning and you will see buses parked on the sidewalk. I'm a huge fan of Kenneth Ferrante, and I just feel our police need a special unit dedicated to traffic. I wrote about this before, and I believe we need more police who have one job - traffic enforcement, like the California Highway Patrol (CHiPs) - we have two officers on motorcyles that patrol the city and write tickets on double parked cars, performing speed traps, stopping jaywalking pedestrians (especially by the PATH station and Starbucks on Newark!), and so forth. I asked Dawn Zimmer last night why it was taking so long to get parking bollards up there - we keep talking and talking and nothing gets done. TWO AND A HALF YEARS. The crowd murured with approval when I mentioned how long its taking.
Third, why does 14th and Bloomfield get two dedicated people to work that street every day from 5pm to 7pm? I agree that is a busy spot, but why isn't Newark Street getting some love, especially for the folks at 415 Newark Street. They are trying to cross the street on a daily basis, and no one cares about them. Put a crosswalk guard out there, at least temporarily, until we can fix Newark Street.
Fourth, the solution that Dawn presents involves installing 24 hour a day 7 day a week flashing Pedestrian cross walk signs. I think we need to look into RRFB Pedestrian walk signs which flash on demand. Look at Newark Street at Adams and Grand and they are an eye-sore. The Zimmer plan is to install more at Willow, Clinton, Grand, Adams, Jefferson - the whole street is going to be a mess of flashing lights 24/7. What we need along Newark are better street lights and having lights that flash on demand. I have stood at Grand and Newark with Rocco and people are desensitized to the constant flashing light. They don't understand i'm trying to cross at that moment. Wheras if you push the signal, the light begins to flash, warning cars that someone wants to cross the street - at that moment. We have it at my office at work for employees to cross from the parking lot, and it works perfectly.
I rarely come out and disagree with Dawn Zimmer, but she needs to take a serious look at fixing Observer Highway, fixing the situation at congestion on Newark and Harrison/Jackson. Her solution is making one-way streets, when the real solution is to WIDEN THE ROAD. Here's a perfect example of that at Newark between Grove and Marin. Narrow the sidewalk, create a lane of traffic.
Traffic coming from Jersey Avenue and Newark is too narrow. Did you hear about the planned construction on our borders at the old Emerson Radio Factory? They want to build 26 story buildings there. Think about all the new traffic on Jersey Avenue on our same narrow roadways. It is going to be hell to get off the turnpike and traffic will be backed up even worse.
We need less talk and more action. I fully get how Dawn Zimmer includes the public in plans, but the people last night were loud and clear. The problem is...I fully expect Dawn will pat us on our heads tell us "We know better than you" and not listen to our suggestions.