The effort to improve pedestrian safety in Ridgewood's downtown by way of street improvements has seen many delays but finally appears to be moving forward.
On Friday, the village began installing a new crosswalk at the intersection of E. Ridgewood Ave. and Cottage Pl., just one of several cross-streets the village has demarcated as a brighter, bolder way to combat pedestrians being struck by cars.
"What we're hoping is this will enhance the crosswalks so the pedestrians crossing become more safe because of the contrast," explained Mayor Keith Killion, who was joined Friday night by Public Works Inspector Tom Rica. The material is a thermoplastic designed to look like brick and it's being installed at every cross-street on E. Ridgewood Ave from Broad to Maple.
"This is part of the overall project that this council has been working on," Killion said. "We've run into a couple problems but we're finally getting it done."
The mayor said the idea had been initiated at the previous council but due to storms and various budget constraints, it had been delayed. The project will run an approximate $148,000 for 24 crosswalks, officials said.
In addition to the streetscape changes, Killion said the Citizens Safety Committee is teaming with the Federated HSA Safety Committe to do a "school and town-wide" pedestrian awareness compaign.
Statistically, Franklin Avenue is the most troublesome intersection for pedestrian accidents. Although the village has plans to make engineering improvements to the area, they admit changes are slow to happen.
"It's a county road, so we need to get approval from them before we start doing anything," Killion said, adding that if the county repaves the road in 2012 as expected, there may be similar changes undertaken, or possibly an island developed to ease traffic. "We recognize it's certainly a concern and we're hopeful we can start work there in 2012."
Of the work done on E. Ridgewood Ave. and its side streets, Killion said it's "weather-permitting."
"We're getting as much done now and we'll pick up when the temperatures rise again (in spring)," he said.