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Sunday, May 19, 2024

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Dad Renews Parkway Protests for Warnings, Enforcement

 

By Al Campbell

COURT HOUSE — Eric Meyer’s voice could barely be heard over the roar or motorcycle engines revving up at the Garden State Parkway- Stone Harbor Boulevard intersection.
The Mayville father, whose 17-year-old son Christopher died in an accident at that intersection on Nov. 4, 2004, wore an orange shirt, and carried a handmade sign Sept. 8 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. for any driver who wanted to see: “2,550 accidents 1991-2006 14 Deaths it must STOP!”
Behind Meyer stood15 neat, white crosses, each adorned with a black ribbon.
On his right arm was a tatto, “In Loving Memory, Christopher” with artwork and his son’s birth date and death.
“Some people said, ‘If there were 14 deaths, why do you have 15 crosses?’ I said, ‘That’s for the next person who will die,’” said Meyer.
Given the driving habits of many motorists, and the present scheme of intersections and signals, Meyer has no doubt that somber forecast will become a reality.
Meyer is no stranger to protest over trying to hasten the advent of overpasses that would rid the bane of Parkway motorists, those three traffic signals.
A realist, though, he knows that project, if it ever is to happen, is decades away, even though federal funding was set aside to assist in the project.
Meyer wants to heighten the awareness of drivers of the only three traffic lights along the 173-mile toll road.
“They can put up an overhead sign telling you about the toll booth ahead, but they can’t put an overhead sign warning you of these three lights,” he said on Sept. 8.
Meyer’s lonely vigil, which he instituted shortly after his son’s death at the intersection, was revived over the Labor Day Weekend, he said.
He bought a speed device, and told a reporter he tallied the speed of cars between the three lights, and “the average car is going 65-70 miles an hour.”
Such speeds, he said, are dangerous. The posted speed limit between Exits 9 and 11 is 50 mph.
The most recent warnings “Signals Ahead” have been placed on the pavement of each lane to alert motorists.
Meyer disregarded that measure as ineffective at best.
Earlier in the week, Meyer told the Herald he believes enforcement should be stepped up to thwart those speeding in the stretch from Crest Haven Road to Shellbay Avenue.
“If the state troopers on the parkway can’t enforce the speed limit, let them give jurisdiction over to Middle Township and let the local police enforce those speed limits. In a week, they could write enough tickets to pay for their time,” he said.
He cited state police enforcement north of here, in the Bass River area.
“They will give you a ticket for doing 67 in a 65 mph zone, but here, the posted speed is 50 and everybody does 65-70,” said Meyer.
Meyer vowed to continue his protests until changes are made.
In May, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which operates the Parkway agreed to some improvements at the Exit 0 interchange of the Garden State Parkway where numerous accidents, some with fatalities, have taken place.
“The Federal Highway Administration has provided an interim approval of those devices and the signals appear to be “great candidates” for their installation, said Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew (D-1st) at the time.
Signal Ahead alerts were installed at Milepost 0.5, .25, 11.6, and 11.3 and in the northbound direction Mileposts 7.8 and 8.1
Two portable variable message signs were placed at Milepost 7.7 northbound and Milepost 11.9 southbound.
Those messages will read “Caution Reduce Speed Traffic Signals 3 Miles.
That message resulted from a request by Meyer, father of Christopher, 17, who lost his life in an accident at Exit 10 traffic signal.
“If we do not institute some interim improvements while major improvements to these intersections are being designed, we will lost more life and limb. There is no doubt that the record of death and destruction will continue unless we clearly warn motorists of these traffic lights and intersection at Exit 0,” said Van Drew.

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