After being told by Morris County Freeholder Director Bill Chegwidden that the Long Valley Safety Project–also known as the Schooley’s Mountain Bypass–was , Washington Township Mayor Ken Short says he’s not going to let the county single-handedly put an end to what he feels is necessary in Washington Township.
At the Washington Township Committee’s regular meeting on Monday, March 19, Chief Michael Bailey and Patrol Officer Michael Hade presented the governing body with accident statistics from Schooley’s Mountain Road–a county roadway–that have happened since 2009.
In the time frame studied, there have been 196 accidents on roadway, the reports stated. Between Camp Washington Road and ‘Big Turn’–the area that would become the bypass if the project moved forward–there have been 24 accidents during that time frame.
In that same area, two of those accidents have resulted in fatalities, the statistics showed. The police also noted there have been more than 100 disabled vehicles in the past three years on ‘Big Turn’ alone.
Over the past 20 years, the project’s plans have seen various iterations, , Short said. to purchase land for the project and conduct tests and begin engineering over the past few years.
If the bypass was completed, Schooley’s Mountain Road, heading south, would essentially go straight downhill from ‘Big Turn’–the major curve just north of the municipal building–eliminating the final two bends in the road.
The road would extend south, cross over West Mill Road, and loop around the , exiting onto Fairmount Road near
Washington Township Police are in charge of enforcing the weight limit of vehicles on Schooley’s Mountain Road. The weight limit currently stands at 20 tons, unless a truck is making a local delivery, but is hard to enforce because the township does not have a scale or weigh master.
The , stating that any vehicle’s gross registered vehicle weight–which is listed on the side of the truck–surpasses 20 tons, will be subject to fines and violations.
Two separate letters have been sent to the New Jersey Department of Transportation seeking approval to amend the ordinance, according to Township Administrator Deb Burd, but the municipality has yet to hear back.
The letters were sent in February 2011, and October 2011.
“We’ve asked (the county) for a shoulder to be put onto (county road) Bartley Road between the high school and Palmer Park,” Short said. “Pavement on Schooley’s Mountain is separating and there’s a guardrail still hanging in the air. We pay taxes just like the rest of the county, but it doesn’t seem to matter right now.”
Short said he has reached out to State Senator Tony Bucco and State Assemblyman Anthony Bucco to help in the process. The mayor also said he’ll be attending the next freeholder meeting to voice his concerns to the governing body.
The next township committee work session meeting is Wednesday, April 11 at the .