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Speeding to Slow Down on River Road

Speed limit change has taken effect for a stretch of roadway

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.

Lance Bader February 01, 2013 at 05:40 PM
I haven't seen ayone do even 40 on that stretch in many a year. Glad we could spend time and money on such an un-necessary effort. How much will the new signs cost us? Way to go! Agree with "Local". How about bike lanes on Hartshorne Lane from Ave. Two Rivers to No. Ward for beach cyclers in the summer instead of these useless signs?
Ron Reiswig February 01, 2013 at 06:58 PM
Unfortunately to contradict Mr. Bader, folks frequently exceed 40 on west entrance to Rumson on River road. Have multiple radar + video captures to prove it. Based on request from Rumson, County officials kicked off DOT study and established that speeding was occurring, and that * averages* were ~ 37- 38 in the 30 MPH zone. Based on those results, a 40 to 30 transition was deemed to extreme, and amending the speed was called for. Now, the county is paying for those changes, and speaking for myself, as a impacted resident who lives in the area, it will be much appreciated. Seems like a small price to pay for slower, more steady traffic pace coming into town and past our residences and businesses.
Ron Reiswig February 02, 2013 at 02:28 AM
Beachlover...I gotta respond to this. The article might make this sound like a deluded one-man campaign railing against the powers that be. I've lived here a year and a half, and being relatively smart, does take me long as a citizen to figure out when something just isn't working and worthy of a few emails and attending a few meetings asking for help. I only asked for enforcement of existing speeding and to look for ways to make it safer and quieter for residents who live along this "main road", e.g. 40 to 35 along estate section which was a priority for the borough as well based on my conversations with them. The rest, including new or improved cross walk markings which are coming in spring will also help. Other items, like street-scape program are nice to have if financially doable in the future. All in all, I fail to see your point or real objection, but perhaps it doesn't mater cause it's clear you don't live here in downtown otherwise you might respond differently. You are right about one thing though.. having observed many of the cars, taxis, trucks and buses barreling into town, you'd be surprised how many drivers have a phone up to their ear..oblivious to their surroundings.
2RiverResident February 02, 2013 at 03:54 PM
I have lived on First Street in Rumson for 17 years. West River Road near Brennans is a nightmare. The combination of speeders, people entering and exiting the parking lot and people swerving around cars that are atteempting to park is utter chaos on weekends and in the summer. Something needs to change.
This Community Cares February 02, 2013 at 04:08 PM
I agree with Mr. Reiswig. Anyone who has lives on one of the main arteries -- River, Fair Haven, Hance, etc. knows that speeding is epidemic. I also agree with the writer who says no amount of tax-payer funded signage will make a difference. Despite all of the massive taxes paid for police, they can't seem to make a difference -- all they can recommend is more money for more patrols. Even when we had several deaths from pedestrians who were mowed down right in the middle of Fair Haven, it still didn't make a difference in drivers' behavior. Is it any wonder that businesses in Fair Haven on River Road are shutting down -- who wants to walk up there any more? It's not a pleasant stroll -- cars dominate that environment. And the "streetscape" with its sidewalk-blocking lamp posts placed one after another, and planters used as garbage dumps won't make it any better. So what will make a difference -- people in this community who speak up and demand that the citizens of, visitors to, and workers in Fair Haven and Rumson pay attention and actually obey the laws and speed limits. So I applaud Mr. Reiswig for his diligence -- we need more like him.

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