Why Are There Missing Crosswalks On Lafayette?
Head of DPW: Residents never expressed a need for them to be installed.
Welcome to "You Ask … Patch Answers," the weekly column for Chathamites looking for solutions to community problems or issues.
Continuing the discussion about crosswalks on Lafayette Avenue, one reader asked:
"Lafayette Avenue has no crosswalks in eight intersections and a sidewalk only on one side, which requires pedestrians to cross at all the intersections for safe walking. This is particularly critical for children crossing to walk to Southern Boulevard School. The three that concern me most are at Cresswood, Longwood and Jay Roads in the township. However, Fairview also lacks a crosswalk and is particularly difficult because of the curve on Lafayette."
Joe Barilla, the head of the Department of Public Works in Chatham Township, said, "There have never been crosswalks there in all of my time [at the DPW]."
Part of the reason there have never been crosswalks at many of these intersections, Barilla said, is because at the time the streets were first paved and crosswalks were originally put in, there may not have been any children in the neighborhood who would have been affected. "Demographics do change," Barilla said.
Another plausible reason, though, is that nobody has ever asked for them. "Nobody's called my office," Barilla said, and "Traffic Safety never asked for [crosswalks] to be put in."
The process begins with Barilla. A resident can bring a suggestion to him and if he feels it's a worthy project, Barilla makes a recommendation to the township committee, he said.
They would then open the issue up to the public at large. In the case of crosswalks, Barilla said the first step for the town is to conduct a poll to determine how many people want the crosswalk and how many people would be affected.
After that poll is completed, the mayor and committee make a final determination.
Barilla said that if residents want a crosswalk, "The best thing for them to do is to go to a Township Committee meeting and put it out on the floor."
If the committee decides to put in a crosswalk, they will find the necessary funds to put them in. Until then, Barilla echoed a phrase that has been heard often at government meetings in the past months when he said, "These things take money, and I don't have the money to do any additional crosswalks."