Rarely has a traffic circle attracted such heated discussion as the one located where four streets — Plymouth Avenue, Burnett Terrace, Ivy Terrace and Oakland Road — intersect near Maplecrest Park.
according to Maplewood Township Engineer Thomas Malavasi.
The township installed the circle, or rotary, in late October, and earlier this month added four directional signs in the middle and rotary signs at each intersection.
Some residents balked at the directional sign, calling it too tall, hard to read and unattractive.
The township has since lowered the sign, and plans to trim and paint the posts and add decorative caps, Malavasi said Monday.
In the spring, Malavasi said, the township will add landscaping including low growing, low maintenance shrubbery. One resident has contacted Malavasi to offer her services to help with the choice of plantings, and the township will also reach out to the Maplewood Garden Club for guidance.
Still, some community members believe the whole project was unnecessary in the first place.
"There has been one accident in the 18 years I've lived here," said one longtime resident of Burnett Terrace. "It was money that didn't need to be spent." The resident fears the rotary will just become a dumping ground for litter.
She said the neighborhood is split on the rotary, with "long-timers" against it and newer residents in favor.
She also said she was unaware of plans to construct the rotary and never knew about meetings the township held with the Maplecrest Park Neighborhood Association. Malavasi said the association had spearheaded the initial meetings and sent out notices to its members.
In the last week, Malavasi said he had received roughly three phone calls and emails from residents about the rotary — two people were against it and one was in favor.
As for making the intersection safer for pedestrians, some residents feel it is doing the job, including one Plymouth Avenue mother who said it is easier for her children to cross the streets to visit friends.
One resident, Joan Crystal, said on Maplewood Online the intersection is more dangerous for pedestrians than it was before. Other commenters disagreed, with one posting that "the very last thing we need is more paint on the pavement!"
Malavasi said he believes the intersection has been made safer by shortening the distance people have to cross. "It was wide open before," he said.
The engineering department will also address the poor drainage near Ivy Terrace, which leads to puddles in the middle of the road, as part of its regular capital improvement work, said Malavasi.
What do you think about the wagon wheel rotary, Maplewood? Has it improved a dangerous intersection, or is it just a mess of confusing, unattractive signage? Let us know in comments.