She is not the only one who worries about the intersection of 13th Street and Clinton Street. One of Hoboken's biggest senior housing buildings, Fox Hill Gardens, is just a few feet away.
"There are accidents there all the time," said senior Trudy Nichols. "There are buses that come by here to pick up seniors every day, and every day I have to say a little prayer that they're not hit. Too many young people just speed through like they own the place and without a stop sign [on 13th Street] drivers really don't have time to stop even if they are only going slowly into the intersection."
According to records from the Hoboken Police Department, there have been nine accidents at the corner of Clinton and 13th Streets in the last three years. Since 1994, there have been 24 reported accidents. According to the state, for an intersection to be considered a high-risk area for accidents, there must be five or more reported accidents within the last three years.
Superintendent of the city's Signal and Traffic Division Thomas Vecchione said that for an accident to be reported, there usually has to be over $500 in damage, so it is conceivable that there were even more fender benders.
In addition, all 24 accidents since 1994 have been side impacts with either the car on Clinton St. striking a car crossing on 13th Street, or vice versa. None of the accidents included a parked car or a rear end collision.
Another intersection that has raised the concerns of neighborhood residents is the corner of Eighth and Grand streets. Because the intersection abuts Hoboken High School, there is a great deal of pedestrian traffic, but there are no stop signs in either direction. This intersection also has a history of accidents. While none of the reported accidents have involved pedestrians, there have been five accidents in the last three years and 12 since 1996.
The pedestrian traffic coupled with the new and added congestion that will come from the opening of the Columbus Park Condominiums has caused the concern of some Hoboken parents.
Hoboken's city administrator and director of public safety, George Crimmins, said last week that he had been made aware of resident concerns about the corner of Thirteenth and Clinton streets from 2nd Ward Councilman Richard Del Boccio. He said that the next step is for the city to conduct studies of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, as well as accident histories, to give to the state.
"I don't think a lot of people realize the steps that need to be taken before a stop sign can be installed," he said Thursday. "You have to have a traffic study that says you need one, then you have to file an application with the state, and then if that is accepted, it goes in front of the City Council as an ordinance. The whole process can easily take over six months."
Crimmins added, "You must realize that if we were to put up a stop sign without state approval, the city would be held liable for all accidents that occur at that spot."
Step on it
There are several residents who think something should be done sooner rather than later. "Throughout the last couple of months, the only thing people have been talking about in this city is traffic," said Clinton Street Resident Ben Walters. "Diverting traffic and whatnot. If the city is so concerned about this traffic, wouldn't you think they would expedite putting a stop sign in front of a seniors center at a busy and dangerous intersection? That would make sense to me. With the [traffic] diversion plan, all we heard about was the public safety and 'children this,' and 'children that,' but this is an easy was to make them safer."
There are those who think Clinton Street is more than just a quiet neighborhood road. "People use it as a freeway," said Maria Ruzzi, 78. "They got their radios blasting and aren't paying any attention to the cross traffic. Without a stop sign all it takes is two people with their radios turned up and not paying attention to kill someone. There is no way that two cars that are even slightly speeding could see each other and stop in time there, no way."
Is a stop sign the best option?
But is a stop sign the best option of this intersection?
State guidelines put a strong burden of proof on a city before a new stop sign is erected. According to state literature put out by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), a city installs stop signs where there might be a question about who should have the right-of-way to prevent crashes. However, a city that places too many stop signs in its streets, according to a DOT study, can result in more drivers running some of the signs to make up for lost time. This can also tempt drivers to cut through other neighborhood streets.
Some drivers also accelerate rapidly after a stop, possibly creating an even more dangerous situation.
According to the state guidelines, the criteria for a stop sign are: where one-way street intersects a two-way street, when a safe approach speed is less than 10 miles an hour due to permanent visibility obstructions, or where circumstances and crash history indicate that observing the normal right-of-way rule (which means the car to your right has the right of way) could still be hazardous, resulting is crashes.
Given these criteria, several drivers were asked if they thought the intersection at 13th and Clinton deserved a stop sign.
"There is no way if you are on 13th Street that you can go through that intersection at more than 10 miles an hour," said Hoboken Resident Moe Davis. "If there is an SUV or a van on the corner there is no visibility, and if you are from out of town and don't know the area and drive through the intersection at 20 or 25 miles per hour, you are going to get into a wreck."
Another driver who heads up Clinton Street to work every day feels the same way. "It's in the back on my mind every morning. You really have to have catlike reflexes to drive in this city anymore," said Clinton Street resident Robert Christensen, 43. "There are so many different directions cars can come and parking is such a problem that cars parked on the streets tend to be too close to a crosswalk."
Thirteenth and Clinton Street is only one intersection of several on Hoboken's westside that doesn't have a stop sign at an intersection of through traffic.
Anyone who has concerns about traffic safety or thinks a stop sign or traffic signal should be placed at a corner can call his or her local councilperson or the city's director of public safety at 420-2059.