3 Lanes of Traffic Urged on Broadway


Camden Courier-Post – February 5, 1938

Acting County Engineer Proposes Widening; Hartmann Opposes Plan

The widening of Broadway through Camden and Gloucester and the establishment of three traffic lanes is advocated by S. Herbert Taylor, acting county engineer; in a plan submitted to Frank Berckman, chairman of the road committee of the Camden County Board of Freeholders.

Taylor favors the widening of the city’s principal business street to 46 feet to permit the laying out of the three traffic lanes, to be 10 feet, eight inches wide, to be flanked by seven foot parking lanes. He suggests pedestrian safety islands at intersections.

Taylor proposes the state take over the street in Camden as it already has done in Gloucester and pay for the improvement. He further proposes the state take over River Avenue in Camden, which becomes River Road in Pennsauken Township.

Hartmann Opposes Plan

His plan is opposed by City Commissioner Frank J. Hartmann, Jr., director of public works, who has charge of Camden streets. Taylor says the widening of the street will decrease traffic hazards and Hartmann is of the opinion it will make Broadway a speedway and increase accidents.

At present the roadway varies from 33 to 40 feet in width, but both cities have 66-foot rights of way, Taylor said. Uniform widening to 46 feet would permit 10 feet on each side for pavements, without the necessity of acquiring new rights of way, he added, asserting only encroachments on the existing municipal rights would have to be removed.

Taylor recommends that application be made to the State Highway Commission for motor, vehicle license and gas tax funds to defray the entire cost of the proposed improvement.

Urges State Operation

Further, the engineer insists that Broadway, along with River road, in Camden should be taken over by the Commission and maintained by that agency. The, state already operates Broadway in Gloucester, but has been lax on maintaining it, Taylor said in criticizing the condition of the street there. He cited sharp drops at the gutters which make driving or parking along the sides hazardous. This condition would be eliminated in his plan.

Elaborating upon his contention that the state should take over Broadway and River Road, Taylor points out both are inter-county highways, and that for nine months in the year: Broadway carries as much traffic as the White Horse Pike, and River Road as much as Black Horse Pike.

Taylor estimates motorists using Broadway in Camden pay $54,000 annually to the state in motor vehicle and gas taxes, with no return to the city.

Fifteen persons were injured fatally in motor accidents on Broadway last year, eight in Camden and seven in Gloucester, the engineer pointed out. He said the artery has the heaviest pedestrian death rate in the county in emphasizing, the need for improvements, particularly pedestrian islands.

Offers Protection Plan

In this connection Taylor has designed a· unique island, which he feels provides complete protection for pedestrians. He has submitted a detailed plan to Berckman for his consideration.

“Broadway and River Road should be State highways, right into the heart of Camden City to the Delaware River Bridge,” argues Taylor, who was assistant to Beale M. Schmucker until the latter’s death. “Both of these routes are arterial, inter-county routes. In neither case is there an alternate state route that can be taken, without traveling a much longer distance. “The State did not solve the arterial highway problem of this, area when it constructed the Crescent and Admiral Wilson Boulevards.

“Take the case of Broadway, for instance, to go to Westville and points south and southwest from the bridge, the Admiral Wilson-Crescent route is two miles or 40 percent longer than the straight line of Broadway. That most people prefer the direct route is shown by the fact that the heavy traffic of the Camden end continues right down through Gloucester City to the county line.

The State has accepted the responsibility of Broadway through Gloucester City, although it has allowed the roadway there to remain in a terrible unsafe condition. If it is a State highway there why should it not continue as a State highway through Camden?

“A 1935 traffic survey showed Broadway carrying 9000 to 12,000 cars daily. These figures should be increased 10 to 18 percent because motor travel has increased 18 percent generally, since 1935.

“This traffic means that the users of Broadway, while on Broadway, are paying approximately $10,000 per mile per year in gas tax. Since motor vehicle fees produce almost as much revenue as gas tax, we may assume an annual contribution per mile of $20,000. Thus for the 2.7 miles of Broadway in Camden, they pay to the State $54,000 a year and yet none of this money can be made available for the improvement of the route they use.

“That this route is sorely in need of improvement is shown by the death toll on it, the worst of any route through Camden city. Fifteen persons, most of them pedestrians, were killed on the five-mile stretch through Camden and Gloucester last year.

Would Double Capacity

“A slightly widened highway would double its capacity and also make room for “pedestrian” islands. This widening could be done within the present right of way and still leave 10 feet each side for sidewalks.

“Crosswalks could be flood-lighted from the pedestrian islands. A study should be made to determine if progressive timing of traffic signals can be installed to expedite traffic and control speeds. These factors incorporated into the design of a new Broadway would, I am sure, prevent most of these fatalities.

“Broadway has and is producing more than enough revenue to make these improvements. What has been said of Broadway is true also of River Road, although in a less degree. The state should admit its responsibility and take both of these routes over.

Taylor said Broadway’s capacity now is 1000 cars per hour. With three lanes instead of two, as at present, the route could accommodate 2000 cars hourly, he contends.

Room for 3 Lanes

“Broadway is 40 feet wide in Camden,” the engineer explains. Seven feet is enough for a parking lane on each side. That would leave 26 feet. Add six feet to that and you have three good wide lanes, each eight inches wider than the 10-feet width accepted as normal; Safety engineers are favoring wider lanes, however, and with all the truck and bus traffic on Broadway, I would recommend 10 feet, 8 inches. This could be accomplished by moving the curbs back three feet on each side.

“In Gloucester the width varies from 83 to 40 feet, although actually it is not even that wide, due to the dangerously high crown. The drop at both sides is so sheer it is difficult for vehicles to go near the curbs.

“The maximum drop from the center of the road to the gutters is 15 inches. By all the rules of highway construction, no drop should be greater than six inches. Personally I wouldn’t build with more than a four-inch drop. That’s enough for drainage.

Taylor denies that three-lane highways are more dangerous than two lanes.

Defends Plan as Safe

“It is true you have a common passing lane,” the engineer said. “But with only two lanes you must go into opposing traffic to pass a vehicle. With three lanes you go into a neutral zone. For the same amount of traffic, a three-lane highway is far safer than a two-lane one.

“I cannot see the wisdom of widening Broadway in Camden at this time,” Hartmann said last night, “Camden police officials should do as they did in New York City by putting into effect regulations to prohibit parking of all cars and trucks on Broadway.

“It is the all-day and double parking that contributes to many of the accidents that occur on Broadway. If the street is converted into a boulevard most motorists will use it for a speedway and thereby create more traffic hazards and increase accidents.”

The commissioner said he is of the opinion that merchants and property owners on Broadway would be opposed to Taylor’s plan If it would cost the city a huge sum of money, which would be reflected in a higher tax rate.

“Broadway was widened in the section below Cherry Street many years ago,” Hartmann added. “The sidewalks were cut down to a little more than a double pathway. Property owners were supposed to set back their building fronts some three feet, to give additional sidewalk space. But a few property owners have met this requirement.

“If the State of New Jersey had a quarter of a million dollars to give Camden a boulevard the money should be spent to widen South Seventh Street over the former Pennsylvania railroad right-of-way. That street is ideal for a boulevard to relieve the heavy traffic on Broadway,” Hartmann continued.

Favors Seventh Street

Hartmann said the better plan would be to proceed with the paving of South Seventh Street, with the widening of Haddon Avenue to follow as a second project. He suggested a boulevard south of Kaighn Avenue to link Seventh Street with Broadway.

“Camden, taxpayers are paying their limit in taxes and they cannot be asked to pay more for a Broadway boulevard or a high-speed thorofare anywhere else in the city. If any of the city streets are to be widened as feeders for the Crescent or Admiral Wilson Boulevards than the state should pay the bill and not the taxpayers;” he said.

Several months ago the Ninth Ward Democratic Association approved a resolution to build a boulevard in the present semi-abandoned South Seventh Street railroad right-of-way. No action followed the proposal, when a survey showed a majority of property owners and persons renting homes and buildings along the street voiced their opposition to the proposed boulevard project.


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