Page 4 THE VILLADOM TIMES IV • April 15, 2009 Mahwah Experts focus on Route 17 traffic gaps at Pilot site by Frank J. McMahon Gaps in the traffic on Route 17 South were the focus of two experts who testified at recent meetings of the Mahwah Zoning Board on behalf of Paks Fast Service Inc. The company is the owner of the Valero Service Station located north of the Pilot truck stop on Route 17 South. Paks objects to Pilot’s plan to renovate its site and upgrade it from an overnight parking truck stop to a gasoline and diesel fuel service station for cars and trucks. Traffic expert Richard Maser recently testified that the gap analysis he conducted, showed that queuing problems on the site would be caused anytime two or more trucks are backed up on the site waiting for a gap in order to pull out onto the highway. He claimed that would cause circulation problems on the Pilot site. Mike Kelly, the board’s professional engineer, had asked Maser if he considered the egress from the Pilot site unsafe or hazardous. Maser said he does. Kelly asked him if it is reasonable to assume that a similar gap issue exists at the Valero fueling station. Maser responded that it would be less of a magnitude at Valero because his traffic counts indicated there would be more trucks at the Pilot site than predicted by Pilot’s traffic expert. Maser was then asked to provide the board with a similar Route 17 traffic gap analysis for the Valero service station. At the most recent meeting of the zoning board, another traffic expert testifying for Paks, Maurice Rached, showed a chart indicating the gaps at the Valero service station. He said that, based on nationally accepted criteria, 6.5 seconds is required to make a right turn out of the Valero station, but drivers there are accepting a three second gap in traffic to pull out into the travel lane. Rached explained that the drivers exiting the Valero site accelerate and merge at a higher rate of speed and that is why the gap times are smaller than the nationally accepted criteria. He said the use of the shoulder to merge into the travel lane at the Pilot site is unsafe even though the New Jersey Department of Transportation allows shoulders to be used to enter travel lanes. He said it is not a good idea to use the shoulder for acceleration or deceleration into or from travel lanes, adding that trucks cannot use the shoulder without using the first lane of travel on a highway. Rached also showed pictures of a Pilot site in Bordentown to describe the backup of trucks. But several members of the board indicated they were not convinced by Rached’s presentation. Board member Arie Slot asked what the Bordentown Pilot site has to do with the Mahwah Pilot site. He added that Rached’s report did not contain any qualification of (continued on page 27) Playgroups with a purpose The Saint Catharine’s MOTHERS’ playgroups recently organized a donation of children’s Easter baskets for the Center for Food Action in Mahwah.