Route 18 New Jersey: A Speed Limit-Less Roadway

Blank speed limit signs may have resulted in tragedy

By Brian Thompson
|  Tuesday, Nov 10, 2009  |  Updated 7:06 AM EDT
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Speed Limit Signs With No Limit in NJ

NBCNewYork.com

New Jersey's DOT recently finished rebuilding Route 18 into New Brunswick, but they left the speed limit signs vacant.

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Speed Limit Signs With No Limit in NJ

People living in New Brunswick are demanding changes on Route 18 where a teenage boy lost his life.
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From the "What Were They Thinking?" department, New Jersey's DOT recently finished rebuilding Route 18 into New Brunswick, but they left the speed limit signs blank.

Yet that's just one issue that community leaders say may have led to the death of 15-year-old George Coleman, Jr. on October 19th, and to claims that the roadway's design resulted in a '"death trap."

"He was supposed to be a lawyer, go to Harvard and now I miss him. I don't know what to do with myself," said his mother, Gifty Coleman.

George was crossing the local lanes of the Rt. 18 overpass at Commercial Avenue when a car struck and killed him last month. His three companions said they were using the pedestrian walk light. But on a highway with blank speed limit signs, there are other problems.

A nearby, brand-new pedestrian walkway hasn't been opened yet, even though it appears finished. But even if it was open, there's no room for a full sidewalk on the other side.

"The design of the roadway gives priority to the transit (traffic) instead of the pedestrians," complained Martin Perez of the Latino Leadership Alliance.

In Coleman's case, a car in the local lanes struck him, possibly according to police, before the light changed. The driver, anyway, was not ticketed.

While there is an overhead sign saying "signal ahead," it is on a curve in the roadway, with the lights themselves hidden by a new comfort station for the park being built right next to Route 18.

Coleman was a serious student who wanted to be a lawyer. "He's no stranger to traffic rules," said his father George Coleman, Sr., who said his son was already studying for his drivers permit.

"You're putting pedestrians on a crosswalk against traffic that travels at 60 and 70 miles per hour," said family attorney Patricia Bombelyn, who says another pedestrian bridge should be built, directly to the park.

Not that motorists know how fast to go with those blank speed limit signs.

New Jersey's DOT had no comment while the investigation continues.

But as for the blank speed limit signs, a spokeswoman said engineers have still been trying to figure that out, leaving it for motorists to choose their speed. However, she said in the absence of signs, New Jersey"s state speed limit is 50 mph.

Apparently that 50 mph rule also includes blank signs.

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