From now on, drivers headed down River Road to and from Rumson are going to have to slow down between Fair Haven's border at Buena Vista Avenue and Third Street in Rumson.
After some borough and county rallying at the hands of Rumson resident Ronald Reiswig and studies on the matter, Monmouth County officials have deemed it in the best interest of the public to lower the limit, now posted at 40 miles per hour, to 35 on what is county Route 10.
The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders sanctioned that and other county road speed limit changes via resolution earlier in the month.
It's a change that Rumson officials support and say they have for some time now. That it happened to come after Reiswig launched his own campaign against speeding on the road they see as more a convenient caveat to an on-the-agenda change.
"We are pleased that Monmouth County has conducted the necessary speed monitoring and decided to reduce West River Road speed limits to 35 (miles per hour) from 40," Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl said. "This reduction was part of a group of five other county roads with speed reductions as the county becomes more urban in nature."
Reiswig, who moved to Rumson a year ago, however, credits himself with hammering away at fighting borough hall and the county to get what he considers only a first step in stopping speeding on the main drag through the two small towns. "Persistence pays," he said in an email to Patch after the limit change was considered and approved.
Heading into Rumson now from Fair Haven there are two 35 miles per hour speed limit signs on what is called an estate section of the road, just after Buena Vista Avenue. About a block before Third Street, where there are sidewalks and increased business and housing density, another sign warns that another drop to 30 miles per hour is coming (just after Third).
Not only is Reiswig pushing for more lowered speed limits along River Road, he has said he has his own plan for future main traffic artery improvements. Those enhancements would include increased signage to alert drivers in more dense residential zones to stay within the posted limits and visibility enhancements and beautification. Reiswig pointed to Fair Haven's implemented Streetscape program, calling it an ideal undertaking for Rumson.
While the mayor has said he does not object to that, there is and has not been funding available to Rumson to implement such a program. In Fair Haven, such projects are being funded via a NJ Department of Transportation Trust Fund grant program.
Through the county, municipalities may comply with a Complete Streets program. It encourages pedestrian and bike safety with road markings and share arrows, for which there is no funding, just parameters and county guidance for implementation.
The mayor had also pointed out, when Reiswig brought up the issue of changing the speed limit, that it is not something typically done very quickly nor at the Freeholder level, but rather at the hands of myriad requests and studies funneled to and from DOT and back to the county. Such processes usually take an inordinate amount of time, Ekdahl had said.
This study fit in with other changes, so it presented a different scenario, he had added.
"A problem was identified, we stepped up patrols in that area, the study was done, recommendations were made and the speed limit will be changed," Rumson Police Chief Scott Paterson said. "Of course, we will support that and enforce the limit."
Paterson added that while there had been a bit of a problem with elevated levels of speed on that particular stretch of West River Road, there was no noted extreme problem or accidents.
He noted that the jump down in speed headed from the Fair Haven direction to Rumson is rather sudden (a couple of blocks) and pretty steep, from 40 to 30 (near Third Street).
Now the speed will drop earlier, at the border of Fair Haven and drop more gradually as drivers hit Third and it goes from 35 to 30 miles per hour instead soon.
Reiswig's hope is that his more comprehensive draft plan, which was done on his own volition, with no advice or consent from the borough or county, will be implemented in the future.
He is not an employee or consultant of the borough or county, only a resident who lives on West River Road and has taken on the cause by clocking speeders on his own and coming up with a concept.