Bergen Record

By Chris Harris

RIDGEWOOD — The Village Council agreed revisions need to be made to a street-improvement project that some residents and business owners have been critical of in recent weeks.

Although it may cost Ridgewood an extra $45,000 in capital funding, the governing body on Wednesday night accepted project modifications recommended by Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld.

The council will vote on the changes Wednesday.

The $500,000 project was the subject of a recent meeting between Ridgewood officials and residents of the neighborhood where the work is taking place.

Residents have opposed the project, saying it will create traffic snarls and endanger bicyclists.

Under the original plan, bike lanes as well as an 8-foot-wide, tree-lined median would be installed, swallowing up two traffic lanes where four currently exist.

Village officials maintained the work, as first planned, would improve safety for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians around Garber Square, as well as along Franklin Avenue and Broad Street. The project is expected to be completed in July.

But the revisions are “an improvement,” Mayor Paul Aronsohn said, adding the changes “plan for potential contingencies.”

Aronsohn further noted that over time, “traffic patterns change, and [the revisions to the project] allows us the flexibility to adjust accordingly.”

Sonenfeld said that, in addition to adding stop signs along Heights Road, traffic plates have been installed around the project, to gauge traffic speeds and flows.

Cameras have also been installed temporarily at Franklin Avenue and Garber Square, to film a week of traffic for analysis.

Sonenfeld said the planned median will now be cut in half, leaving no room for trees, but 20 feet on either side for the restoration of two tight traffic lanes.

About 900 feet of curbing, already installed as part of the project, will need to be ripped up, and that will cost the village an added $45,000, according to estimates.

Councilman Thomas Riche voted against the project modifications, saying he “supports the plan as originally designed,” and adding that “decisions in the village should be made for the entirety of the community, not the loudest voice.”

Before last week’s vote, several residents, along with the head of the Ridgewood Guild, Tony Damiano, slammed the road work, saying it would clog one of the major arteries into Ridgewood’s downtown, impacting business.