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Mayor: County Ends Funds for Bypass Project

Long Valley Safety Project may officially be dead.

After more than 20 years of considering, planning, engineering and land purchasing, the potential Long Valley Safety Project–known to many as the Schooley’s Mountain Bypass–may officially be a dead idea.

Some $150,000 had been put in reserve for the project by the Morris County Freeholders for the purpose of land purchase along the proposed route of the bypass, Washington Township Mayor Ken Short said.

When Short met with Freeholder director Bill Chegwidden recently to request the funds, however, the freeholder advised that the project would no longer be receiving funds from the governing body.

According to Short, Chegwidden said that because the project has no specified end date, funds would no longer be allocated to the improvement project.

“(Chegwidden) said there are no future plans to make any improvements on the roadway,” Short said. “This is a county road. This is the county’s responsibility. And they have no plans to make it safer.”

Over the years there have been about seven different plans considered to construct a bypass for the roadway between Camp Washington and East Mill Roads, according to Short. The final plan was adopted six years ago.

In March of 2011, the Christie Administration announced it would give $3.5 billion to the state for various road projects in 2011. .

This comes in addition to $800,000 appropriated by Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen about five years ago, Short said. All funds thus far have been used for planning and engineering costs.

The project would bypass the stretch of approximately 0.8 miles, and plans have considered turning Schooley’s Mountain Road into a cul-de-sac at ‘Big Turn’, just north of the . The new road would head downhill from ‘Big Turn’ and end up across the street from the . The bypass would be a two-lane road with a shoulder. 

The property next to the Middle School, where the annual Fireworks Festival takes place, would be turned into an extension of the bypass road, and loop around to Fairmount Road across from the . If a traveler was heading from the east along Rt. 513, a connecting road would begin at and would connect to the entryway at the Creamery.

“About a decade ago,” Short said, “when an initial estimate was constructed for the project, a total of about $7 million was quoted.” Now, 11 years later, Short believes the cost would be near $15 million.

Most land parcels in the area have already been purchased, Short said, and now he’s unsure of what the county plans to do with the space, as it was originally allocated for the project.

“(Schooley’s Mountain) is certainly not the safest road out there. It's certainly not the safest road in the county,” Short said. “I don’t understand why the project isn’t moving forward.”

Much of the testing, engineering and site plan has already been approved, Short said, and it’s a matter of having the funds to begin and complete the roadwork.

In the past six months, a , and a driver crashed into the . During flash flooding in September 2011, chunks of , and guardrails were unearthed from their foundations.

“It’s very disappointing to see this not happen,” Short said. “It’s been in our town’s master plan for over 20 years. It’s seems like Western Morris County is getting the short end of the stick.”

Claire March 16, 2012 at 11:21 AM
WT blew it when voters did not get out there to vote for Nordstrom. Did everyone forget, we are the forgotten part of Morris county! We needs some representation in the next Morris Co freeholders election.
BK March 16, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Traffic could be helped by adjusting the traffic light at the intersection at the bottom of the hill as well as adding a left turn signal (arrow)...aren't there truck restrictions for school's Mnt Rd? If not, there should be and they should be strictly enforced...
roger freiday March 16, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Although I thimk they sure blew a fortune on NOTHING with all that '''prep'' work, we COULD HAVE, SHOULD HAVE, fixed the intersection by ''Splash'' with a relatively INEXPENSIVE turning lane and green arrows. It is daunting to make a left turn in anything like a ''rush hour'', looking at head on collisions with the through traffic !! LV police and Committee take notice !
Tracy Tobin March 16, 2012 at 11:44 AM
The Mayor and Township Committee should pressure the Freeholder Board to implement the section of the Bypass from West Mill Road to Fairmount Road to relieve some traffic pressure on the interesection in the center of town. The property for that portion of the bypass has been acquired. Pay attention to this year's primary Election ballot. There may be a couple candidates from the western end of the County that will pay some attention to our traffic and road condition issues.
RAH March 16, 2012 at 12:42 PM
As someone who has been a victim of cars running the yellow on the Fairmount side of the light in town I believe that implementing the bypass for Fairmount to West Mill would be beneficial. In addition, turning lanes for West Mill Road going onto Schooley's Mountain Road and Fairmount Road would ease some of the problems, but not all. The timing of the lights would significantly help the "rush hour" traffic in the morning. There is not much that can be done with the "big" turn unless the bypass was put in. Unfortunately, Schooley's Mountain Road is the way to go to Hackettstown from the 206/78 corridor. Without an alternative route, Schooley's Mountain Rd. will continue to be congested in the morning for south bound traffic and Fairmount will be congested in the evening for north bound traffic.
Hookerman March 16, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Has the town ever considered reworking Schooley's Mountain Rd so it runs straight from the curve right before the municipal bldg, connecting with the current road farther up the mountain, and thus eliminating "dead man's curve"?
DV2009 March 16, 2012 at 01:22 PM
I am glad to hear the bypass may be dead. The purchased land can be given to the Washington Township Land Trust and never developed. I love the "rural suburbia" we live in and would hate to see more roads, more cars, more pollution, fewer trees, etc in our beautiful corner of Morris County! Just keep the trucks off Schooley's Mountain Road...
Linda Guldner March 16, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Yes, there are trucks on Schooley's Mountain Rd and they will never be restricted because of the economic impact that would cause. I think we need to get the attention of the Freeholders and get this back! One death is one to many and that has already happened. Did we forget that? Numerous serious accidents at the curve happen every year. We can not wait until God Forbid another death. The intersection at the bottom needs to be fixed too now with the addition of a turn lane and a revised signal but the curve needs to be addressed and we need to pay attention to who is running for freeholder.
RGJ March 16, 2012 at 04:00 PM
You could look at a topo map, but I'm sure that would be too steep for a straightaway, H.
Jennifer Simon March 16, 2012 at 04:07 PM
The trucks are the biggest problem. And they won't go away until the state passes special legislation banning trucks on this road. It's a county/state road and trucks are allowed on all such roads. Legislation could fix that. Drivers also need to obey the speed limit...and many don't, treating this residential road as a highway. I live on this road and have small children and have almost been rear-ended many times just waiting to pull into my driveway. Like the 'red light' cameras at the bottom of schooley's mountain road...we need cameras just above the hairpin turn that are automatically triggered when someone goes over the speed limit. A few high-priced speeding tickets would slow a lot of people down!
RGJ March 16, 2012 at 04:10 PM
In just the last few years, we had a truck fatality at Big Curve and a horrible fiery truck motorcycle fatality at the curve up above at Camp Washington. It is a daunting engineering project, no doubt, but up until now the county has been pushing away diligently on this. It is disturbing to see Mr. Chegwidden stop a safety project cold like this. This really isn't a traffic issue, it is a serious danger to all our residents. Chegwidden's office number is 973-285-6010, by the way.
Dave March 16, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Would the bypass actually help? If the bypass was to go in, you would now have a nice long straight downhill run from Camp Washington to East Mill Road. That will bring faster vehicles going down the hill.
RGJ March 16, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Well....that's better than Big Turn safety wise, plus the underlying reason for all of this was the crazy commuter traffic backup downtown. This has been in the Washington Township Master Plan as far back as the early 60s, planners could see that the traffic was going to be coming due to development north and west. And it's here.
Claire March 16, 2012 at 07:08 PM
I believe it was a long sweeping turn and not a straight run downtown.! We'd be attracting teens from all over the state if it was! Maybe some one can provide the plan to us. I think it was originally published on the patch.
LV Taxpayer March 16, 2012 at 07:39 PM
There is ABSOLUTLY no enforcement of truck traffic going over the mountain. I see police sitting there, watching them go up and come down, and doing nothing.
Claire March 16, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Isn't this the same topic brought up on the Patch in Sept from Mr Tobin http://longvalley.patch.com/blog_posts/schooleys-mountain-road-weight-limit What are the truck size and weight limit on the road? What do we need to do to get changes made??? How do we get them enforced?
Tracy Tobin March 16, 2012 at 08:56 PM
To All I will ask the Mayor and Police Chief to update eveyone at this Monday's (3/19) 7:30 p.m.Township Committee Public Meeting, re the status of truck weight limit restrictions and Police enforcement for Schooley's Mountain Road. TracyTobin
Claire March 16, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Tracy, Thank you for taking the time to answer concerns that you read on this site. It is nice to know someone is listening and helpful to hear facts from someone who knows. I appreciate this!
I. U. Mayo March 17, 2012 at 01:24 PM
You knew there would be at least resident who would go to the "catch all" as far as problems in WT and blame the WTPD - LV Taxpayer. I also like how Council Member Tobin logs in and writes, "Township Committee should pressure the Freeholder Board..." Your on that committee, stop writing it on here as some outside observer and do it! Also, there are several residents who are unaware of the truck restrictions on Schooley's Mt. Rd., which, leads me to believe that several more residents are unaware of it as well. If you live in town and do not know about the restrictions, how is the random truck driver supposed to know about them? Perhaps we should increase the size and visibility of the signs informing truck drivers about the restrictions? Flashing yellow lights? Of course increasing the size of the signs will anger a small, vocal group of residents who love the "rural suburbia" we live in. As far as creating turning lanes at the center of town, you would need to increase the width of the lanes. This is an impossibility, as knocking down the "historic" buildings (eyesores) at the center of town is feircly fought by the LV Historic Society and others. Good luck.
DV2009 March 17, 2012 at 02:42 PM
As the intended target of the "rural suburbia" quip in the above, I would like to point out that I do not object to better signs about the truck regulations. I also would argue that there is more than a "small" group that loves the historic feel of Long Valley. A large road making the 206/78 commute easier would only attract MORE traffic in the end.
Tracy Tobin March 17, 2012 at 03:53 PM
I.U.MAYO Sorry you don't like the way I write my posts. When I write "the Mayor and Committee" in any of my posts I am obviously including myself. However, I cannot dictate what the Committee MUST DO as just one of five members. The Mayor and the rest of the Committee members have to agree on a course of action. I cannot go to the Freeholder Board as an individual committeeman and act as the town's spokesman without authorization. I am talking about a joint action by the full Committee. As a resident, before I was elected to the Committee, I attended and spoke out at Committee meetings urging action on both the West Mill Road to Fairmount Road portion of the Bypass and better signage and enforcement of the truck weight limits on Schooley's Mountain Road. Hope to see you at a future Committee meeting adding your support for these actions.
Dina March 18, 2012 at 03:28 PM
I live behind the municipal building and the last thing I want is some huge highway or small for that matter going behind my house. Wherever the signs are for these enormous trucks (and I don't know where they are either). They need to be well noted before the truck gets onto SMR, not once they are on it. THere should be signs on 78, 46, 206 so these guys know in advance. In addition to that our township is wasting huge amounts of money on assumptions (bypass) and bus houses, they want to close a school and overcrowd the other schools. Has anyone been inside the middle school. It's a mess, even a coat of paint in the hallways would help. Maybe they should take care of what we have rather than create more costs. Stop spending money you don't have that is what we have to do.
DV2009 March 18, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Well said, Dina! I agree! (Except I would really like to have a YMCA or something instead of a huge unnecessary elementary school, but I think that ship has sailed...)
Joyce Beck March 18, 2012 at 10:22 PM
I found some maps and other descriptive info about the bypass. Page 9 of the NJTPA (New Jersey Transportation Planning Authority) TIP sheet (Transportation Improvement Program Fiscal Years 2010 – 2013) has a map and a description showing the plan. http://www.njtpa.org/Project/TIP/documents/Morris2011Element.pdf For the record, an old document (dated 2006) states that block 34 lot 46 of Scott Farm II will be used for the bypass and future school expansion. Apparently, that block of land is west of the Middle School. http://www.morrispreservation.org/ForSaleScott2.pdf Google map showing the point where Camp Washington Rd meets Schooley's Mt Rd: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=embed&hl=en&geocode=&q=Schooley%27s+Mountain+Road,+Long+Valley,+NJ+07853+and+Camp+Washington+Road&aq=&sll=40.784571,-74.780009&sspn=0.011178,0.018947&g=East+Mill+Road,+Long+Valley,+NJ+07853+and+Fairmount+Ave&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Schooleys+Mountain+Rd+%26+Camp+Washington+Rd,+Long+Valley,+Morris,+New+Jersey+07853&t=h&ll=40.784571,-74.779987&spn=0.019497,0.025749&z=14&iwloc=A
RGJ March 18, 2012 at 11:09 PM
If you wade through the link below, it seems large truck traffic is barred from Tewksbury in the south, Rt. 31 to the west, and the Chester line to the east. So....I would be surprised if straightening Big Turn out floods all those voters with tractor trailers. But never underestimate the Teamsters power in Trenton with gas prices skyrocketing, I guess. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:hcX71-3p13sJ:www.nj.gov/transportation/about/rules/pdf/chapter32truckaccess.pdf+rt+517+nj+truck+size+restrictions&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEEShNVnbziH_SPP2Ims3qRFG5_psoILQP3dXpqRBPxAOL2B-n2xerhsdLInymaOTYOqAmcrbQG6iX37YlM7aDM65X3-AyWboOgsjK7KJP1X28GO3fl-e9Bh6G6bxAM-wepeKDuomQ&sig=AHIEtbTDZgKTh-5IeI_DNnWM6bD59HBRgg
Gadfly March 19, 2012 at 12:20 AM
This seems like political posturing to me. The county has spent millions on this project and they are he'll bent on getting it done. Wouldnt it be great of someone took notice that two thirds of those voting on this article thinks the whole project is unneeded.

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