In a recent special meeting held by the River Edge Borough Council on September 5, 2023, officials unanimously agreed to appoint Lou Lujo, a veteran transportation and traffic engineer with over 34 years of experience, to oversee and consult on the ongoing traffic and safety concerns in the borough, particularly in the area surrounding local schools. The appointment comes in the wake of a decision by the Board of Education (BoE) to proceed with a contentious school reconfiguration plan set to be implemented next September.
During the meeting, Lujo emphasized his primary goal to independently assess the current safety conditions and standards concerning public streets and crosswalks in proximity to the schools. Leveraging his rich experience in handling traffic flows, parking, and site plans, Lujo aims to present a neutral evaluation with the potential to confirm or propose alterations to existing recommendations from various sources, including the police chief and Mr. Klein of the BoE. Lujo mentioned the preparation to conduct a meticulous examination of different crosswalk locations and the broader pedestrian dynamics to shape a constructive feedback loop, rooted in safety and logic. He also outlined plans for on-ground observations to understand the real-time situations better.
Mayor Thomas Papaleo echoed the sentiments of prioritizing safety, stating that while the borough council respects the BoE’s autonomy, their role is pivotal in ensuring the reconfiguration happens safely and according to public convenience. “We wanted to have a third party to review it because there has been some controversy, and we thought for the confidence in the public about what we’re going to do to make this reconfiguration safe, we wanted to make sure that you reviewed it,” Mayor Papaleo told Mr. Lujo. The council seeks to foster confidence in the public through transparent, expert-reviewed safety measures that possibly offer fresh perspectives to enhance safety even further.
Council members Dario Chinigo, Lissa Montisano-Koen, Indira Kinsella, Klodiana Malellari, and Barry Benson were present in the meeting, and unanimously passed resolutions 23-254 through 23-257, which included Mr. Lujo’s appointment. Post his introduction and delineation of his plans, the council offered no further questions but expressed gratitude for Mr. Lujo’s commitment to undertaking this significant task.