Some residents in Red Bank are expressing apprehension about a developer’s proposal to construct a 210-unit apartment building at the corner of Bodman Place and Riverside Avenue.
In testimony regarding the application, a traffic engineer has identified traffic calming measures which could appease residents and officials who have called a left turn by vehicles from Bodman Place to Riverside Avenue a dangerous movement.
Testimony on behalf of the applicant, 176 Riverside, LLC, was presented at the Red Bank Borough Planning Board’s meeting at Borough Hall on Aug. 5.
176 Riverside is seeking preliminary and final major site plan approval to demolish the vacant Visiting Nurse Association building and a separate two-story structure. A new five-story mixed use building would then be constructed on the 2.44-acre property.
Answering questions posed by attorney Chad Warnken, who represents the applicant, traffic engineer John McCormack described the left turn from Bodman Place to Riverside Avenue as a complicated maneuver.
When turning left, motorists must cross several lanes of traffic.
McCormack identified four improvements that could be made. The first improvement would be to re-stripe Bodman Place to create two exit lanes. He said each exit lane would accommodate a right turn or a left turn onto Riverside Avenue.
He said at present Bodman Place is not striped, but does accommodate two exit lanes.
The second improvement would be to install a “Do Not Block the Box” sign, McCormack said.
The third improvement would be to create a new lane in the middle of Riverside Avenue. Motorists turning left onto Riverside Avenue would have to make a two-stage maneuver: first they would turn into the new lane and then they would merge into one of the existing lanes heading in the same direction.
McCormack said the fourth improvement would be the construction of a traffic signal at the intersection of Bodman Place and Riverside Avenue. He said a traffic signal would “greatly improve” the level of service at the intersection.
The level of service would improve from a D level of service (on a scale of A to F) in the evening to a B level of service if a traffic signal is installed, McCormack said. He said the new traffic signal would be coordinated with a traffic signal at the intersection of Bridge and Riverside avenues.
The intersection of Bridge and Riverside avenues, which has a traffic signal, operates at a C level of service, he said.
“We are prepared to pursue the (traffic signal) improvement” at Bodman Place and Riverside Avenue with the state Department of Transportation (DOT), McCormack said, adding that the applicant could cover 50% of the estimated $300,000 cost of a new traffic signal.
McCormack said Riverside Avenue is under the jurisdiction of the DOT because it is Route 35, a state highway. He said the DOT must approve any changes to the road.
Without the construction of the traffic signal or the other improvements, McCormack said the intersection of Bodman Place and Riverside Avenue could deteriorate to an F level of service in the future.
McCormack, who conducted a traffic analysis in June, said Riverside Avenue accommodates 1,300 vehicles each morning hour and 1,600 cars each hour in the afternoon.
Bodman Place accommodates about 80 vehicles in the morning and afternoon, he said.
“The majority factor in the delay (of vehicles) is whether or not a courtesy gap is provided on Riverside Avenue,” McCormack said. “It is a clear gap that is defined because of the (status) of the traffic signal at Bridge Avenue … If drivers provide the courtesy gap, it makes it easier for drivers to exit Bodman Place.
McCormack said the apartment building, if constructed, would not contribute to “100% new traffic … The traffic associated with this apartment building is substantially similar to what the VNA was generating … The apartment building would generate less than one trip in and one trip out every minute.”
An estimated 48 vehicles would leave the apartment building in the weekday evening hours. When the VNA was active, McCormack said, about 44 vehicles left the property during the evening hours.
“They (the VNA building and the apartment building) are very similar during the most critical time period at the most critical movement,” McCormack said. “This estimate is conservative and takes no credit to how close we are to the train station, the shuttle provided to the station, and the walkability of the area.”
Residents and board members had the opportunity to ask McCormack questions about his testimony. Some people who live near the site expressed apprehension about the project.
Residents cited possible additional congestion on adjacent roads, pedestrian and bicycle traffic, the use of on-street parking and deliveries to the apartment building if it is approved.
Board member David Cassidy asked if the intersection of Bodman Place and Riverside Avenue would be safe for motorists if the apartment building is approved, but the traffic signal is not approved by the DOT.
McCormack said the intersection would be safe for motorists if the other improvements he mentioned are implemented.
Mayor Pasquale Menna, who sits on the Planning Board, said he blesses himself before he turns left onto Riverside Avenue. He said he has advocated for the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Bodman Place and Riverside Avenue for a decade.
Resident Thomas Sadman asked McCormack if he took into account the number of bicyclists and pedestrians who used the roads during the time he conducted his traffic analysis.
McCormack said, “we typically do.”
“I’m noticing two people in the audience tonight who have had accidents” at this location, resident Sue Viscomi said.
Resident Beth Lucas said she saw a motor vehicle crash into the VNA building.
“The (motorist) went halfway through (the building) and I was probably the first person to call the police … The whole (proposed development’s) design, I find it very dangerous,” she said.
Architect Frank Minervini of MNVM Architecture, Hoboken, presented details of the proposed development’s floor plan.
The property is included in a redevelopment plan that was adopted by the Borough Council on Dec. 12, 2018. The construction of the 210 rental apartments, with 32 apartments set aside as affordable housing, would help satisfy pending affordable housing litigation, municipal officials said.
The proposed apartment building would include 210 apartments, 9,000 square feet of co-work space, retail food space and 326 parking spaces in a proposed attached parking garage, according to a legal notice which outlines the application.
Testimony concerning the 176 Riverside application is expected to continue at the Planning Board’s meeting in September.