Galloway Township’s last three fatal accidents took place on the Garden State Parkway, a two-lane stretch of state highway and a dark spot on a county road.
The vastly different circumstances illustrate the difficulty of a one-size-fits-all method of preventing crashes in a township crisscrossed with roads of all different sizes and maintained and patrolled by several entities and agencies.
Seven of the last 13 fatal accidents in Atlantic County have taken place in Galloway Township, according to data compiled by the State Police.
Moss Mill Road, a two-lane county road, was the site of two fatal crashes in the last three months — a crash that killed a 52-year-old Galloway man on a motorized scooter Dec. 30 and an accident that killed a teacher from Hammonton returning from her classes at Richard Stockton College on Dec. 11.
Another two crashes took place on the Garden State Parkway, which bisects the township — and which is patrolled by State Police — including a crash on Dec. 14 that killed a Linwood man and his son, and a one-car crash that killed a New York man five days after his vehicle smashed into a divider Jan. 30.
Two other fatal crashes were on state roads — Route 9 and Route 30 — which, unlike the parkway, are patrolled by Galloway police. A 61-year-old Galloway man was killed while crossing the intersection of Lily Lake Road and Route 9 in January, while Route 30 was the site of a fiery fatal crash involving a tractor trailer in November.
Galloway Township Patrolman Steven Garrison, with the Traffic Safety Unit, said that Route 30 was the road with the highest number of accidents, but the county’s Jimmie Leeds Road probably ranks above Route 9.
“You have a lot of backed-up traffic,” Garrison said of Jimmie Leeds. “Almost daily from 3 to 6 you get rear-end accidents, just because it’s so backed up there. There’s so many businesses, doctor’s offices, banks.”
Moss Mill Road, though, presents unique problems.
“Moss Mill Road, for the most part, a large portion of it is rural. It doesn’t start getting nonrural until you get to the Smithville area,” Garrison said. “Because of the rural nature of Moss Mill, sometimes accidents are deadly. Animals run out in front of you, and people may be on autopilot, not focused and dozing off.”
Another problem, said Nancy Smith, of Galloway, is the darkness of much of the road.
“In the morning, sometimes it’s very dark when kids are walking to school,” Smith said. “There should be more lights on the road, or crossing guards, or something.”
Even Wrangleboro Road, which bisects Moss Mill, has seen a number of accidents for a municipal roadway of its size.
“Wrangleboro is surprising. There were 45 accidents (in 2013 and 2014),” Garrison said. “For a roadway of only two miles, that’s a pretty good (amount). But they’re probably small accidents.”
Galloway Mayor Don Purdy said the conditions of the roads are particularly problematic due to the recent weather.
“There are a lot of bad roads out there right now due to the bad weather, with the ice and freezing (over),” Purdy said. “State, county and local roads have major potholes and cracks. They’re major problems, and a lot of times you can’t fix them.”
Recent work at several locations has cut down on the number of accidents, Purdy said. He cited the intersection of Pomona Road and Route 30, where a state Department of Transportation project adding turn lanes has “cut down dramatically” on crashes, despite situations like the November tractor-trailer crash.
Other dangerous intersections along Route 30 include the ones with Tilton Road and Cologne Avenue, while an example of a dangerous smaller intersection is Smithville and Quail Hill boulevards.
John Peterson, county director of regional planning, said that two projects — repaving on Motts Creek Road and a replacement and redesign of the Pitney Road and Moss Mill intersection — will resume this spring after being suspended for the winter. In addition, several projects are planned for this year, including repaving Jimmie Leeds between Route 30 and Upas Avenue, work on Sixth Avenue and repaving of the railroad bridge over Tilton Road.
As for lighting on Moss Mill, Peterson said for rural roads, like Moss Mill west of Stockton, “if it’s dark you can see cars from a long way away. We definitely light intersections, and if there are specific areas of concern, municipalities or somebody would make a special request. Churches often request (lighting) because there’s more activity.”
Said Purdy of deadly accidents in the township, “We’re on the up and up, and fatals are on the decline” — and in fact, despite the recent number of fatal crashes, the township is only third in the county in the number of fatal crashes since 2011 with 14, compared to 21 in Hamilton Township and 30 in Egg Harbor Township. “But we have a long road ahead of us to repair the damage the weather has done on the highways.”
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