On the morning of Thursday, April 18, 2019, Madison Mayor Robert H. Conley hosted a discussion regarding congestion issues on Route 24, Route 124 and Park Avenue.
COURTESY OF THE BOROUGH OF MADISON
Attending the discussion was Rep. Mikie Sherrill, the first-term representative of New Jersey’s 11th congressional district which includes Morris County; former New Jersey Governor and current State Sen. Richard J. Codey; New Jersey Assemblywoman for District 27 Mila M. Jasey; New Jersey Assemblywoman for District 21 Nancy F. Munoz and New Jersey Assemblyman for District 25 Anthony M. Bucco.
Several administrators from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) were present as well, including Deputy Commissioner Joseph D. Bertoni, Chief of Staff Jay Jimenez and Office of Community Relations representatives Zenobia Fields and Andrew Swords.
Along with state and federal officials, the Mayors of six surrounding communities attended: Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce Harris, East Hanover Mayor Joseph Pannullo, Florham Park Mayor Mark Taylor, Hanover Township Mayor Ronald Francioli, Morris Township Mayor Jeffrey Grayzel and Morristown Mayor Timothy Dougherty.
The meeting served as a chance for officials to share concerns on plans to improve the congestion related to the intersection coming off Route 24 east at Exit 2B, that has motorists cross three lanes on Columbia Turnpike in a short distance at slow speeds to make the left turn onto Park Avenue to get to Madison.
Traffic congestion from Route 24 has long been a topic of concern for Mayor Conley. In July 2016, the mayor held a closed-door meeting with mayors from the area, Morris County freeholders and state legislators to discuss easing of traffic on Route 24. With a new administration in Trenton under Gov. Phil Murphy, new congressional representation and new mayors since the 2016 meeting, the hope for Thursday’s meeting was that a set of fresh faces and ideas will help break the jam.
State officials agreed to a tentative plan back in October 2017 that would create a new connector for the intersection so motorists will have a “direct connection” to Park Avenue without crossing three lanes of traffic. The proposal also would allow drivers to connect to Route 24 East without having to cross Columbia Turnpike.
At a Morris County Freeholders meeting hosted in Madison on Thurs, April 11, Mayor Conley characterized the current proposal allowing a direct connection to Park Avenue as problematic, as it would redirect traffic on Columbia Turnpike in Morristown onto Park Avenue, then onto Route 24 east.
“Today’s discussion with federal, state, county and local representatives was a productive continuation of prior meetings addressing this topic,” stated Mayor Conley following the April 18 discussion. “Now that we have new players in the game, and the willingness from state officials, including NJDOT to continue this discussion, I feel that we can move at an accelerated process to start to make changes that will benefit residents and employees who work within the surrounding area."
As a conclusion to the meeting, officials in attendance recommended a committee be formed to further the discussions that took place. In a press release following the event, Madison Borough announced plans to establish such a committee so that a beneficial plan can develop with funding from the state and federal levels. Further, according to the press release, NJDOT has committed to listening and engaging in conversations with the planned committee, as "they are eager to work together to create the best plan possible."
“I want to thank all that participated this morning,” said Conley. “The people that were present this morning expressing concerns and raising questions, are the same people, that when we all work together, will get something done, and I look forward to getting something done that will benefit all.”
As well, Congresswoman Sherrill tweeted after the event, "The poor condition of transportation infrastructure impacts the day-to-day lives of New Jerseyans. This issue deserves effort at every level of gov’t. Thanks to our mayors, state legislators, and NJDOT officials who joined together this morning to talk fixing Morris County roads."