On April 14 at around 10:30 a.m., a silver Infinity ran a red light at Huber Street, causing a horn to blare from a car just entering the intersection. The Infinity sped east on Paterson Plank Road, running the red light at Maple Street, and again a red light at First Street. When two lanes blocked the small car near the light at Flanagan Way, the Infinity turned into the Dunkin' Donuts driveway and raced out onto Flanagan Way, where it sped through the light just then turning yellow. It sped through the Plaza section and disappeared. On April 18, around 8 p.m., two taxis ran the red light in the Plaza and another cab ran a red light at Flanagan Way, while an electrical contractor's van barged through a red light at the Maple Street ramp and just barely missed oncoming traffic. According to Councilman John Bueckner, such violations have become more and more common in town. Cab drivers, truck drivers, even housewives in cars have come to ignore the law - with apparent impunity. While Bueckner has come under fire for reading a resident's letter at the April 11 Town Council meeting complaining about increasing traffic violations, other residents claim traffic has become a horrendous problem in Secaucus, one that seems to be getting worse despite increased numbers of police. Police Chief Dennis Corcoran disputed some claims made by Bueckner, saying speeds on Centre Avenue checked last week during rush hour showed nothing higher than 31 miles per hour. A letter read by Bueckner claimed speeds reached 50 miles an hour at times. Yet one driver in a car crash earlier this year said a mini-van running a stop sign had resulted in the near-death of an infant. While local law enforcement blamed sun glare, this driver blamed the other driver for careless driving. What can the town do?
Bueckner, in reading the letter at the April 11 council meeting, asked the council to seek stricter enforcement. Cars apparently are running more red lights and exceeding speed limits more often along most of the main routes, but especially on County Avenue, Centre Avenue, and Paterson Plank Road. "On Friday, March 31, at 11 p.m., a car struck a pedestrian at Paterson Plank Road and Humboldt Street, then speed off direction of Route 3 after cutting through the Plaza Diner parking lot," the letter-writer claimed. "About a month ago, two pedestrians were struck on Humboldt Street." Bueckner said the letter-writer had witnessed an assortment of violations, and that some people had not been ticketed. "This is going on all over town," Bueckner said. "I'm not suggesting that we ticket the whole population of Secaucus, but would like to see this council take some strong action through our liaison to the police department. I think there has to be a lot more done in the enforcement area. I think sometimes you have to make people aware that we don't tolerate speeding here." This is the second year in a row that Bueckner has complained about increased traffic speeds. In 1999, after Bueckner complained about taxis speeding through the center of town and taking up metered parking spaces in the Plaza, the town worked out an agreement that sent taxis to Flanagan Way to wait for calls, rather than parking in the center of town. Mayor Dennis Elwell said setting up regular radar monitoring around town has been difficult around town over the last few years before of a shortage of police officers. "Officers have to be re-certified regularly," Elwell said. "But training in radar is one of the items we're working on." In order for courts to recognize tickets, Elwell said, officers must be regularly certified and equipment inspected frequently. With the lack of manpower on the force over the last few years, it has been difficult to spare officers from their duties to go get re-certified. Councilman John Reilly, liaison to the police department, said that the police can't be everywhere at once, especially with the force still not up to full staff. But he assured Bueckner that when new officers come on duty within the next few months, they will be assigned to traffic enforcement. Reilly said the force is employing a number of strategies to make people aware and perhaps slow traffic down. But he said with as many as 60,000 people coming into Secaucus daily, the traffic situation is a difficult problem. He also said that traffic problems are partly a consequence of being a center of business. The town has a speed-monitoring device it puts out as a tool to help make motorist aware of how fast people are going. "Many people don't realize how fast they are going," Reilly said. "Some people remember seeing the sign and later slow down accordingly." Reilly said the police follow up with enforcement, often a radar unit that results in issuing of speeding tickets. Resident Art Glaeser said he had he had witnessed some incidents of this kind in the north end along Koelle Blvd. Sam D'Agostino also complained. Another complaint involved the taxis dumping trash on Flanagan Way while waiting for calls. Bueckner claims some limousines are making a mockery of the way life in Secaucus. Resident Frank MacCormack asked if taxi drivers could be regulated through certificate of insurance, perhaps requiring them to maintain a certain level of liability. Elwell, however, said the state sets the level, not Secaucus.