Plenty of upgrades to see in the borough

A street corner with two warning surfaces at 90-degrees to each crosswalks.

GLEN RIDGE, NJ — Glen Ridge will be receiving a $39,200 grant for infrastructure improvements. The funding is part of a $5.5 million package from the Community Development Block Grant and Emergency Solutions Grant programs.

The borough was one of 12 Essex County municipalities and 33 non-profit community organizations to receive the money. According to Deputy Borough Administrator Michael Zichelli, the funds Glen Ridge received were from the block grant program. The money will go to improving ADA ramps at intersections.

“We apply for the grant every year, typically in November or December,” Zichelli said in a telephone interview. “The borough only applied for $40,000.”

Each ADA location is unique, he said, and the funds will be able to provide six or seven ramps.
“When we put in a roadway, we have to upgrade the ramps,” he said.

He was not certain yet what intersections will receive the ramps because PSE&G is currently doing gas line upgrades.
“We don’t want to do it and then have the road ripped up,” he said.
The borough has 18 months to use the grant and no county roads will be getting the ramps. The Glen Ridge Historical Preservation Commission must also give its approval.

“We will use tinted concrete to blend in with the slate sidewalks,” he said.
But while the ramps make getting around easier for wheelchair and baby carriages, they can make it more difficult for the visually impaired.

For the visually impaired, ADA ramps have detectable warning surfaces in them. This is a rectangular, bumpy surface that visually-impaired people can detect with a cane and their feet. Zichelli acknowledged that visually impaired borough resident Peter Seymour prompted a re-evaluation of how many detectable warning surfaces should be used at a crosswalk and how they should be oriented.

Seymour’s concern initiated with curbs at crosswalks being replaced with ramps. He said the curb was a way to determine the location of the street. Further complicating his crossing at an intersection having two crosswalks was that only one detectable warning surface was used for both crosswalks. The one bumpy surface would be placed at a 45-degree angle to both crosswalks. Walking directly across the surface would cause someone to walk diagonally into an intersection. Seymour told the borough council the warning surface should not be at an angle, but directly face the intersection.

“He had a great point,” Zichelli said of Seymour’s suggestion.
Zichelli said federal regulations permit one detectable surface to be used on a street corner having two crosswalks.
“Because of Peter, we put in two per corner,” Zichelli said. “This will take you directly into the crosswalk.”

The borough typically received a $40,000 block grant and for the last 10 years has been using the funds to upgrade its ADA ramps, according to Zichelli.