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Murphy, Conaway & Benson Bill to Protect Pedestrians Known as 'Antwan's Law' Approved by Full Assembly
Bill Would Reduce Speed Limit on Route 130 near Burlington City Schools
(TRENTON) - To make roadways safer for schoolchildren crossing a busy stretch of Route 130 in Burlington County on their way to school, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Carol Murphy, Herb Conaway and Daniel Benson was approved Monday by the full Assembly.
The bill (A-3576) is dubbed "Antwan's Law" after 17-year-old Antwan Timbers, Jr., who was struck and killed by a passing vehicle as he walked along Route 130 in May 2016. The bill would reduce the speed limit on the highway near Burlington City High School and Wilbur Watts Intermediate School, where many students cross to go to and from school every day.
The section of Route 130 addressed in the bill runs through Burlington City in Burlington County. It can be particularly dangerous for pedestrians to cross because the northbound and southbound lanes are separated by a block of commercial properties lined with popular businesses, including a prominent convenience store, two fast food restaurants, two pizza places, a pharmacy and an ice cream parlor.
"In the wake of this tragic incident, this bill is a commonsense measure to protect pedestrians and students who regularly cross Route 130 to utilize everyday amenities," said Murphy (D-Burlington). "I applaud the efforts of Antwan's former classmates and the Burlington City High School administration for championing this legislation and enacting positive change in our community."
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign identified Route 130 as one of the most dangerous roadways in New Jersey for pedestrians for six consecutive years from 2010 to 2016 in the agency's annual reports of the region's "Most Dangerous Roads for Walking."
"No student should feel like his or her life in danger while walking to and from school during the week or going to the convenience store on the weekend, but that's the reality for many Burlington students," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "In honor of Antwan and all those who have tragically lost their lives on Route 130, this legislation would make this portion of Route 130 safer for pedestrians."
"This section of Route 130 is an active business section frequented by students going about their daily routine," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Reducing the speed limit will caution drivers to be vigilant and to slow down whether school is in session or not."
Currently, the Department of Transportation sets speed limits for state roads with designated exceptions for school zones. Along Route 130, for example, the speed limit is 25 mph when children are visibly present from the highway during recess or at peak hours while children are going to or leaving Burlington City High School and Wilbur Watts Intermediate School. The speed limit is 40 mph in the area at all other times.
This bill would reduce the speed limit to 25 mph on the roadway directly adjacent to both schools. Additionally, the speed limit on the section of Route 130 leading up to the reduced speed zone would be decreased to 35 mph. The fine for speeding in this designated area would triple the typical fee for speeding.
The measure was cleared by the full Assembly and passed the full Senate in April; it now goes to the Governor for further consideration.
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