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No Right on Red: Borough Officials May 'Revisit' Rule at Central Road and Main

County police have ticketed drivers for turning right at an intersection where the light is long and borough officials say a “No Turn on Red” sign might not be necessary.

For several months, drivers in Fort Lee travelling down Central Road and making a right turn onto Main Street have encountered, just before the intersection, a temporary, variable message sign that says, alternately, “Watch For Pedestrians,” “Obey All Traffic Laws,” and finally, “No Turn On Red.”

That sign and the reason for it being at the intersection was the subject of an off-agenda discussion at the Thursday that concluded with borough officials deciding they would take another look at whether it’s really needed.

“Two people have stopped me in the last three days asking me why is it ‘no turn on red’ because that light is awfully long,” said Councilman Joseph Cervieri. “They sit there for minutes at a time.”

But the issue went beyond simply having to obey that particular traffic law recently, when on at least one occasion, county police set up a stop just around the corner on Main Street and started pulling drivers one-by-one into the municipal parking lot across from and ticketing them for turning right on red.

Borough Administrator Peggy Thomas said she, along with Councilman Harvey Sohmer, spoke with the after learning about the apparent crackdown.

“[Fort Lee police] told us that they’ve called the county and told the county to back off on that,” Thomas said. “But the chief felt there was a lot of pedestrian crossing down there because of [the restaurants across from the parking lot]. That’s why he asked that they put down that sign.”

In response to an increase in motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians in the borough, Fort Lee Police Chief Thomas O. Ripoli recently urging them to take proper safety precautions.

Sohmer said he was at the intersection where few cars turn—except for those coming off of Central Road—in December with a Capt. Bendul of the Fort Lee Police Department to evaluate the timing of the light.

“We timed it, and the light wasn’t that long,” Sohmer said. “I think he said it was a two-minute light.”

But Cervieri noted that Central Road meets Main Street just west of the point where Main becomes one-way. Aside from those coming from Central Road, only the relatively few drivers turning onto Main Street off tiny Bigler Street just yards away, or those turning left from the one-way Federspiel Street across Main from Central Road go through the usually quiet intersection.

“Basically, [Main Street] is a one-way street, coming from east to west, and there’s nobody coming up there,” Cervieri said.

He suggested that the sign should simply read, “Beware of Pedestrians Crossing,” or that the borough could “create a pedestrian walkway; maybe light it.”

Sohmer agreed that the borough should perhaps “revisit that with the captain or someone from the traffic division to see what we can do.”

Added Fort Lee Mayor Mark Soklich, “We’ve got to do something.”

The Mayor and Council agreed to address the issue on Friday or over the weekend.

Michael Marcus March 16, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I sit on the bus waiting to make that turn. It's a long light and there is rarely any traffic, auto or pedestrian.
Martha Cohen March 16, 2012 at 06:33 PM
It is a long light and recently, the sign doesn't always say "no turn on red" like it did a month or so ago. I noticed that a week or so ago when I was wondering if we were now allowed to make the turn on red. Either they should shorten the red light to a reasonable wait time or let us return to making a right on red.
Henry Cooper March 18, 2012 at 08:17 PM
"An accident waiting to happen". Several weeks ago I spoke with a Police Officer at the Fort Lee, P.D. Traffic Division regarding your most timely email to me today. I was told that the traffic light had a motion detector to control the traffic flow and that the new barriers, electric sign and crosswalk stanchion (opposite In Napoli) were placed there because of the restaurants on the block. I said In Napoli was the only restaurant at the subject intersection receiving special consideration. Two days later, everything was gone ! However, all did reappear even more lane restrictive a few days later. Unless timing adjustments have recently been made to the traffic signal, it was approximately three and one half minutes in duration and not two minutes as stated by Mr. Sohmer. Two weeks ago I was waiting for the light to change and behind me was a Patrol Car. The officer through his speaker told me right turn is permitted on red. I got out of my car and told him what the sign said. He got out of his car to look at the sign, "no turn on red". We both left when the light changed to green. I thought when I returned from vacation that the error would be corrected: it was not. Additionally, the two lanes on both Central Road and Main Streets were reduced to One lane causing the Tandem buses to swing wide onto the easterly turning lane on Main Street, which almost hit my wife's car one morning on her way to work. Your email saved me a trip to the P.D.
Henry Cooper March 18, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Dear mike, The intersection of the article is CENTRAL ROAD and Main Street which is opposite St. Rocco's Church and "In Napoli restaurant". Your intersection is near the Mayor's office in the Boro office Bldg.
Mike March 30, 2012 at 11:37 AM
I understand that the street is Center Road & Main Street what the article is about. What I am referring to is Center Ave and Main Street corners that should have walk/don't walk signs.


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