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‘Enough is enough’: Egg Harbor City residents post signs urging drivers to slow down

‘Enough is enough’: Egg Harbor City residents post signs urging drivers to slow down

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EGG HARBOR CITY — As Paul Gladue stood on the porch of Red Barn Adult Books Tuesday morning, he noticed cars moving a little bit slower down the White Horse Pike.

It could be because drivers were actually obeying the 35 mph speed limit sign posted on the side of the road for drivers traveling from Galloway Township into the city, or because Gladue installed a 4-foot by 8-foot white sign on the side of the building with black, capital letters reading “SLOW DOWN.”

“I didn’t do anything fancy,” said Gladue, who runs the store. “I can tell just from standing here, people are going slower. I just think this town can use any help they can get.”

Gladue took his inspiration for the signs — another, identical sign was installed on the opposite side of the building — from a growing movement to curb drivers who speed through the city.

“It’s like, enough is enough,” Gladue said, watching a tractor-trailer creep into the neighboring lane on the narrow pike. “There’s no margin for error on this road.”

It all started over the summer with residents who placed 25 lawn signs urging motorists to slow down on the city’s main artery after a 7-year-old boy was fatally struck in July while crossing the street.

Steven Dash, 56, and his wife, Rosemary, put up the lawn signs within a week after the fatal crash, investing $120 of their own money along with help from the city’s Republican Club, he said.

“We certainly felt very upset that the little boy was killed,” Steven Dash said. “That area has a 35 mph speed limit, but it’s pretty common for people to go whipping through there.”

Marco Yu was crossing the pike with his grandmother and another young child July 11 when they were hit by a truck.

Marco was pronounced dead at the scene. His grandmother, who has not been identified, was taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus, with life-threatening injuries and later died.

Jorge Rodriguez, 30, of Horsham, Pennsylvania, who was later charged with immigration violations, was charged with being an unlicensed driver involved in a fatal motor vehicle crash in both deaths by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office. He also was issued a motor vehicle summons for being unlicensed before he was processed and released on a summons.

“A lot of people felt helpless when we saw the little boy was killed, and that’s why we thought the least we could do is get some signs up just to remind people,” Dash said. “It won’t solve all the issues, but it reminds all of us to slow down a little bit and care about the people that are in that area.”

From April through August of this year, city police issued 131% more citations to drivers on the pike than during the same period last year, and just more than doubled speeding citations, according to data from the department. However, during those same months, there’s been a 40% increase in car crashes on the road for those months from 2018 to 2019.

The data show enforcement isn’t enough to prevent accidents, police Sgt. Marcella Aylwin said, but community involvement is a great start to finding solutions.

Mayor Lisa Jiampetti said Thursday the state Department of Transportation has agreed to lower the speed limit on the road, which falls under its jurisdiction, but the city is waiting to hear back from the state to schedule a meeting.

The goal would be to get the speed limit reduced from Hamburg Avenue to Bremen Avenue, the entire length of the pike that runs through the city, but Jiampetti’s not sure what the state will do, she said, adding the DOT is coming to town to look at improving pedestrian crossings.

Deputy Director of Communications Steve Schapiro said the DOT is aware of the concerns raised by city officials and is working to set up a meeting to discuss them.

The effort behind the signs was thoughtful and shows the cohesiveness of the community, Jiampetti said. When she sees them, she remembers the tragedy of Marco’s death.

“I think people, when they see them, they think about what happened and it might inspire them to slow down,” Jiampetti said. “I think it keeps it in their faces that there was a tragic accident there. But you’ll always have some people that just drive by.”

Contact: 609-272-7241

mbilinski@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressMollyB

Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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