Officials, residents call for redesign of deadly NJ freeway that's had 900+ crashes in 4 years

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Thursday, January 12, 2023
Officials, residents call for redesign of deadly NJ freeway
Residents are calling for the redesign of Freeway Drive in East Orange and Orange after several fatal crashes. Toni Yates has the story.

EAST ORANGE, New Jersey (WABC) -- East Orange city officials are demanding action from county and state executives to address a dangerous roadway that's claimed the lives of several residents.

Freeway Drive in East Orange and Orange, New Jersey recently claimed the life of Carl Smith, who was struck and killed while trying to cross the busy roadway.

The driver that hit Smith ran a red light.

Smith is not the first one to be killed while trying to navigate the multi-lane highway that runs through several residential areas.

Almost 1,000 accidents have been reported in the last four years, according to the office of Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake.

She says that due to poor traffic light synchronization and limited crosswalk hardware, too many accidents have occurred on Freeway Drive in recent years.

"It's called 'freeway,' so people step on the gas as soon as the light is turning red," Timberlake said. "Almost in about a split second or so the cars traveling north and south are getting a green light, that's a collision right there."

Timberlake was joined by other elected officials and Smith's family along with six other families who had a loved one killed while trying to cross Freeway Drive.

"We have a skate park here god forbid a car goes into it," East Orange Mayor Ted Green said. "So we need action and we need it now."

The Department of Transportation controls the corridor and how the lights are timed.

Local leaders say they've been in talks for years about several infrastructure improvements here, but not much has happened

Meanwhile the accidents continue.

"Unless proper measures are taken, injuries and fatalities will still likely occur," Timberlake said. "In collaboration with the municipalities of Orange and East Orange, county, and state, we must do everything we can from a public safety perspective to ensure that we protect our residents to the best of our ability."

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