Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Suicide Hill Solution?

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Suicide Hill Solution?

Article excerpt

They call it "Suicide Hill."Ever since she was a child, Ridgewood resident Nicole Amico says, that has been the nickname for the steep stretch of Glenwood Road that becomes Brookside Avenue at a hairpin curve straddling the NJ Transit tracks north of the Ho-Ho-Kus train station."It's a disaster waiting to happen," said fellow commuter Jared Malbin, also of Ridgewood, as the two waited for southbound trains carrying them to work on a chilly morning this week.Still, say Amico and Malbin, they want it left open.

Commuters this week agreed something needs to be done to fix the perilous crossing, but they expressed concern over the news that the state Department of Transportation is considering making it one-way eastbound or closing it to all traffic except emergency vehicles. Limiting access, they said, would lengthen their commute and cut off a favored shortcut to the train station, local shops and Route 17.

Officials in Ridgewood and Ho-Ho-Kus are also worried.

The two towns recently launched a six-month enforcement campaign to encourage better driver safety habits at the grade-level crossing. Officially begun on Jan. 1, Ho-Ho-Kus police began stationing officers at the crossing in December, new signs have been posted warning motorists not to stop on the tracks and local businesses plan to start disseminating educational information to their customers.

"We're trying to stop two things," said Ho-Ho-Kus Administrator William Jones. "People who come down the hill, drop off commuters, then do a U-turn on the railroad tracks to go back up the hill. And anyone stopping on the tracks waiting for the road to clear."

Truck drivers using the narrow road as a shortcut between North Maple and East Glen avenues have also gotten stuck on the turn straddling the tracks, backing up traffic, according to Jones.

At the end of the six months, the state will evaluate the crossing to see if driver behavior has changed. If it hasn't, the state could decide to restrict access.

For Ho-Ho-Kus residents like Denise Ott, the change would likely have little impact on her life.

But for Ridgewood commuters who rely on the Ho-Ho-Kus station to ferry them to work, they say any restriction would be a burden. …

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