Old Bridge officials call for traffic study on Route 9 following fatal crash

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OLD BRIDGE – As police continue investigating the recent fatal motor vehicle crash, township officials are calling on the state Department of Transportation (NJDOT) to conduct a traffic study along the Route 9 corridor.

“The issue on Route 9 is the continuous motor vehicle accidents,” Councilman Mark Razzoli said.

Razzoli said the call for a traffic study, which the council approved in a resolution at a meeting on Feb. 25, is a proactive approach to address the Route 9 corridor to minimize motor vehicle accidents and provide any safety measures if needed including barriers, reflective devices, signage and lighting.

The rear end crash, which involved three motor vehicles, occurred at 5:50 a.m. on Feb. 25 on Route 9 north between the Route 18 interchange and Spring Valley Road, police said.

A 2003 Honda Pilot, driven by a 34-year-old Manalapan man, allegedly struck the rear of a 2013 Toyota Prius. The driver of the Prius was a 37-year-old of Manalapan and he had two rear seat passengers, Grigory Deli, 72, and Margarita Deli, 71, also from Manalapan, according to police.

The Delis were pronounced dead at the scene. A third vehicle, a 2004 Nissan Altima driven by a 47-year-old Staten Island, New York, man, was also involved, police said.

The Prius and the Nissan Altima drivers were transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick and treated for non-life threatening injuries, police said.

Mayor Owen Henry said the Route 9 corridor is one of the busiest commuter corridor in the state.

“We have had a number of incidents,” he said. “We first asked for help from [NJDOT] in the bus lanes when a school bus was hit. We asked for a compete review of the bus lane operations we have in Old Bridge. The report came back and said the [bus lanes] were perfectly safe.”

Henry said two years ago the township experienced a triple fatal motor vehicle crash on Route 9 near Lombardi Field when a driver crossed over the median.

“We immediately reached out [to the state] and asked for a study for a guardrail to stop future crossovers,” he said. “The state came back and said the guardrails were not needed.”

Henry said his administration is committed to safety on the Route 9 corridor and are in contact with local legislators.

Councilwomen Anita Greenberg-Belli and Debbie Walker said the township’s dealings with the NJDOT have been less than forthcoming.

“The administration has reached out multiple times [to the state] on a regular basis,” Greenberg-Belli said. “It’s a tragic thing when you hear of an accident and loved ones are lost, it’s sad. People are in a hurry and not paying attention, it’s terrible.”

Walker said the communication with the state has been frustrating noting they had waited for the traffic light at Route 9 and Spring Valley Road for years.

Police said charges will be determined upon the completion of the investigation. The Old Bridge Police Department is asking anyone with information about the fatal crash to contact Police Officer Henry Penley at 732-679-5959.