TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Nicholas J. Sacco which would allow municipalities, counties, or other institutions of a public or semi-public nature which oversea roads to construct curb extensions without prior approval from the Commissioner of Transportations was approved by the Assembly today by a vote of 74-0, with one abstention.
“Motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians have been on the rise in recent years, and local officials need the authority to do whatever they can to increase pedestrian safety and reduce the number of accidents,” said Senator Sacco, D-Hudson and Bergen, the Chair of the Senate Transportation panel. “Curb extensions offer enhanced sight lines, reduce the time it takes for pedestrians to cross the street and force motorists to slow down and use caution when approaching an extension. These programs are vital and valuable to enhance pedestrian safety, and shouldn’t be tied down by bureaucratic red-tape and delayed by a needlessly complex approval process.”
The bill, S-1122, would authorize counties, municipalities, or other public or semi-public bodies which maintain and administer roadways to build curb extensions or bulbouts on any street under their jurisdiction without the approval of the Commissioner of Transportation. The bill defines a curb extension or a bulbout as any horizontal extension of the sidewalk into the street which results in a narrower roadway section.
Senator Sacco also noted that the bill would decrease the prohibited parking zone from the curb from 25 feet to 10 feet of the nearest crosswalk if a curb extension or bulbout has been created at the crosswalk. The Hudson County lawmaker said that because curb extensions and bulbouts allow for better sight lines, municipalities would be able to gain four additional parking spaces at each street corner where these pedestrian safety projects were built.
“In many of the urban communities I represent – and in other urban centers around the State – the lack of availability of parking is a perennial problem,” said Senator Sacco. “Through this legislation, we’re taking a big step forward in protecting pedestrians, but we would also give municipal officials the authority to create four more parking spaces per street corner in their municipalities. Given the fact that many cash-strapped municipalities cannot afford to build massive parking structures, curb extensions represent a lower-cost alternative to address parking shortages within a municipality.”
The bill now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.