Peden Terrace: two-way or one-way?


Probably the steepest hill street in Kearny and one of the most difficult roads to navigate, Peden Terrace was the focus of attention at a special meeting of the governing body last Tuesday, Sept. 27.

About 15 residents of the block, which stretches from Belgrove Drive west to Passaic Ave., voiced varying opinions about whether to change the existing two-way traffic pattern.

After an hour of discussion, Mayor Alberto Santos and members of the Town Council put the matter into the hands of the town’s public safety and traffic experts to weigh the options and report back later this month.

Santos said he wanted to hear from residents about the parking situation and traffic flow, including reports “about damage to [parked] vehicle,” before the town replaces the water main and laterals under the street and repaves the block, which borders the First and Third Wards.

The mayor said three options are on the table: making the street one-way; restricting parking to one side of the street but maintaining two-way flow; and retaining two-way traffic.

Michael Neglia, the town’s consulting engineer, said the town figures to advertise for bids for the water improvements this winter and the paving might happen in the spring, if the governor releases funding allocated for it and other paving projects around the state.

If and when the paving money becomes available, Neglia said the town would “try to smooth out the dip at the bottom of the road. We haven’t designed [the project] yet.”

As for traffic flow, Neglia said that “with a 29-foot-wide roadway [Peden’s width], it is not uncommon to have two-way traffic with parking on both sides. Is it tight? Yes, but I don’t have room to widen it. Your homes are right there.”

And, Neglia said, making the street one-way could create other problems because “you’re changing the pattern of the neighborhood – it throws cars onto adjacent streets.”

Brian Intindola, a traffic engineer with Neglia’s firm, said there’s no question there’s a “parking demand” on Peden and, with parking on both sides of the street, motorists “have to yield to someone coming the other way.”

Assuming a switch to one-way, he said, there may be a “slight advantage” to have traffic going eastbound, up the hill toward Belgrove and Garfield School, but Neglia added that, generally speaking, “when you make it easier to pass, speed [of cars] is going to go up and your traffic volumes will increase from neighboring streets. I don’t think it’s a desirable alternative.”     

Just how risky is it to drive on Peden?

Kearny Police Lt. John Taylor, who runs the KPD traffic bureau, said that a check of departmental records disclosed a total of only 13 reported accidents from 2011 to now. Of those, he said, eight were attributed to parked cars getting sideswiped. Others involved malfunctioning brakes, a driver doing a K-turn, a driver falling asleep and drivers turning at Passaic Ave.

When residents were asked for their input, one griped that trailer trucks “come up the hill like bats out of hell,” with some “clipping [parked] cars” as they go. For that reason, she said, “you can’t have it one-way going up because they’re not going to slow down.”

Those same trucks, one man said, come up the hill at 40 to 45 mph so fast because “they want to beat the light at Afton and Bergen,” especially “from 6 to 8 a.m. — I guarantee you’d give out tickets.”

Another woman echoed concern about fast traffic on the street. “They’re speeding – it’s like a raceway,” she said. “I almost got caught in a head-on. My heart was in my throat. I’ve never seen it like this.” And, she said, particularly with small children in the area, “someone’s going to get hurt.”

Several residents faulted parents double-parking to drop off their children at Garfield School for causing congestion at the top of the hill.

One woman, a local teacher, said that she and her husband, a town police officer, have had their vehicles “hit so many times [while parked] on the block. It’s a huge problem with Peden being two ways. People are constantly making a K-turn in our driveway.”

And her husband agreed that the town should considered changing Peden to one-way, adding that, from his perspective, “a fire engine barely has enough room to get down the street.”

The couple also pointed to parents double-parking by the school as the cause for disrupting traffic flow at Peden and Belgrove. “It’s ridiculous what you see there in the morning,” the teacher said. And the officer added: “I have to pull out into the southbound lane of Belgrove” to see what’s coming to make the turn. “I almost hit some people in the crosswalk because you can’t see.”

Said Santos: “I don’t know what the answer is now. We will try to make it safer. We will consider your comments about damage to vehicles and speeding. Give us to the second council meeting in October to get back to you.”

Any other Peden Terrace residents who could not attend last week’s session are invited to contact/email members of the governing body with their recommendations, Santos said.


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