INTRODUCTION This section of the Master Plan presents the Borough’s Traffic Circulation and Transportation plan, which is required by the Municipal Land Use Law to cover the following:
All modes of transportation required for the
efficient movement of people and goods
into, about, and through the municipality.
Ramsey is located in the northwest corner of Bergen County, an area served by limited rail and bus service providing public transportation. Automobile transportation is the primary means of travel.
Ramsey’s system of highways, arterial roads and local access streets is nearly fully developed as there is little land left for future development. Both arterial and local access roads have had increased traffic resulting in a negative impact on traffic patterns throughout the Central Business District. Increased commercial and high-density residential developments in Mahwah have also negatively affected Ramsey’s traffic pattern. Compounding the problem is the fact that the Borough serves as the major east-west passageway through northwest Bergen County. On the other hand, the completion of I-287 has led to decreased truck traffic on Route 17, and improvements on and near Route 17 have improved the Borough’s overall connection to the rest of the region.
EXISTING ROADS AND TRAFFIC VOLUMES The Traffic and Transportation map presented at the end of this section identifies the Borough’s existing road system, while the Regional Map that follows it shows major traffic connections to the surrounding area. Route 17 is the main regional highway within Ramsey. It intersects with the New York State Thruway three miles to the north and intersects with other main roadways such as Route 4, Route 46 and Interstate 80 to the south.
County roads in Ramsey are classified as major or arterial roads. They were initially designed to serve the Borough and surrounding areas, assisting traffic flow through the Main Street Central Business District. Historically, Franklin Turnpike had been the major artery of travel through Ramsey. During the Revolutionary War period, it served as the principal stagecoach and mail route from New York City. Prior to the construction of Route 17, it served as the major north-south route connecting Bergen County to New York State.
Also identified on the Traffic and Transportation map are collector roads that carry traffic from local neighborhood areas to arterial roads and highways. The railroad station and the three commuter parking lots are also noted on the map.
Table T-1 identifies rail movements through Ramsey in 2003 and 2006. This compares the movements through Ramsey as shown on the Main and Bergen County Lines schedule of April 27, 2003 – the last before the major weekend service restructuring in anticipation of the Secaucus Junction station opening – and the current Main and Bergen County Lines schedule (April 23, 2006).
This comparison demonstrates a 35% increase in weekday service and a 50% increase in weekend service. The rail line crosses Main Street. When combined with the traffic signal at the intersection of Main Street and Central Avenue, significant traffic backs up occur on Main Street throughout the day.
Traffic volumes have increased throughout the Borough, but the major concern is congestion in the Main Street Central Business District. Main Street serves as a major east-west passageway for northwest Bergen County. The following developments have contributed traffic to an already heavily traveled Main Street Business District: Central Park townhouses on North Central; the five-story N.J. Transit Parking Garage on Island Avenue, and commercial and high-density residential development in Mahwah at Ridge Road (via Darlington Avenue).
RECENT ROAD AND TRAFFIC IMPROVEMENTS There have been a number of road and traffic improvements affecting Ramsey.
The intersection of Spring Street and Hilltop Road was realigned to connect the two roadways. Traffic lights were installed and roadways were widened resulting in an improvement in traffic flow.
Lane and road conditions were improved on Route 17 in Ramsey to the New York State border.
The Main Street/Franklin Turnpike intersection has been widened and improved. Left turn lanes have been installed to facilitate traffic flow. Walkways have been added to allow pedestrian traffic to move more efficiently and safely. In addition, the intersection has been improved aesthetically with brick pavers, turn of the century light poles and granite block curbs.
A five-story parking garage has been constructed by N.J. Transit on Island Avenue at Route 17 South. This facility was built and is owned and operated by N.J. Transit as a regional parking facility.
PLANNED IMPROVEMENTS The Traffic and Transportation map shows the extension of Williams Drive to Route 17. The extension is under final construction and, once completed, will relieve traffic pressure on narrow Airmount Avenue, allowing a direct link from the Williams Drive Industrial Park district to Route 17 North.
Improvements are scheduled for the Route 17 and Franklin Turnpike intersection directly to the north of the Williams Drive/Route 17 North connection. The roadway will be widened, and signalization will be installed to improve both traffic flow and safety.
The Borough is currently implementing the “21st Century Revival Project”, a streetscape improvement project affecting Main Street between Central Avenue and Spruce Street. The project includes new lampposts, crosswalks, benches and planters in addition to brick paver sidewalks and concrete curbs.
PROJECTED FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS
Darlington Avenue and North Central Avenue Intersection. This intersection is a “tee” with the only traffic control being a stop sign on Darlington Avenue. During periods of high traffic volume, northbound traffic on North Central Avenue and eastbound traffic on Darlington back up significantly due to restricted turning radii. The County proposes to install a traffic signal at the intersection, with dedicated left turns from northbound North Central and eastbound Darlington. Property acquisition (or easements) will be required on both roads in the vicinity of the intersection.
Main Street and Central Avenue Intersection. This intersection, on the west end of Ramsey’s Central Business District, has become obsolete due to increased traffic in the area. The County is proposing to have dedicated left turns from both approaches on Main Street and to retain the dedicated left turn from North Central into East Main Street. The project will require property acquisition on West Main Street to complete the improvements. The traffic signal system will be updated to accommodate the new traffic pattern.
FUTURE TRAFFIC PATTERNS AND LAND DEVELOPMENT Ramsey is essentially a suburban residential community. There are no large employment centers in the Borough or in the immediate region where construction of mass transit facilities would be advantageous to minimize traffic flow. Borough residents are dependent on automobiles for their daily needs. According to the 2000 Census, there were a total of 7,165 workers who lived in Ramsey, however, 81% (5,791) drove alone while only 6.7% (480) carpooled. Only 5.9% (422) used public transportation.
While Ramsey cannot expand its arterial and collector roads, the Borough should continue its efforts to obtain County and State aid to upgrade its existing infrastructure.
Ramsey should continue to oppose large-scale, intensive developments in neighboring communities which may adversely impact traffic flows through the Borough. As an example, an approved commercial development on the Ramsey border at the old McKee Sand and Gravel site at North Central Avenue/MacArthur Boulevard may have a negative impact on traffic along North Central Avenue, a predominantly residential street for most of its length in Ramsey.
The newly constructed N.J. Transit parking garage in Ramsey has raised concerns about traffic flow through Island Avenue and Island Road, also a predominantly residential area. Currently underutilized, the parking facility’s potential impact must be continually monitored.
The greatly increased usage of the Main and Bergen County rail lines through Ramsey has exacerbated an already congested traffic condition through the Main Street Central Business District. The traffic signal at the Central Avenue/Main Street intersection and the railroad crossing that bisects Main Street make traffic flow difficult to improve. This is compounded by the fact that the Borough's Main Street serves as the major east-west passageway through northwest Bergen County.
Even though the Borough of Ramsey is virtually 100 percent developed, continued increases in traffic, both local and regional, have placed a burden on the local roadways. The Borough should continue to look at ways of relieving congestion and improving circulation patterns. Specific goals should include:
1. Protecting existing neighborhoods from through-traffic as well as addressing volume, speed, and congestion issues.
2. Develop ways to better manage traffic flows within the Borough.
3. Better integration of walkways and bikeways connectivity.
4. Identify specific trip generators that cause congestion and work with the community to develop ways to reduce congestion.
5. Limit roadway improvements to a scale that is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.
6. Utilize traffic-calming techniques.
7. Avoid zoning changes or zoning variances for higher-density residential development or more intensive commercial development than currently permitted, to limit future increases in traffic volumes.
It is especially important to limit the intensity/density of future development and redevelopment near and around Main Street, as traffic flows through that area are already congested, due to existing traffic volumes, the railroad crossing, the number of small stores, the short streets and the traffic lights at the intersections of Central and Main and Franklin Turnpike and Main.