Local police agencies are backing a call from the family of an Ocean County Prosecutor's Office detective who was killed in a Route 70 crash last year to increase safety on the state highway.
The family of Detective Tina Rambo, who was killed in an August 2011 head-on crash at age 35 while driving along Route 70 in Southampton, wants the Pinelands Commission to adapt its Comprehensive Management Plan to enhance safety on the mostly two-lane highway.
According to a news release issued by Rambo's sister Tara Cunningham, her family and police from Manchester, Lakehurst, Medford and Pemberton believe Route 70 within the Pinelands should have barriers and be designated a Safe Corridor. Rambo's family and other organizations plan to appeal to the Pinelands Commission Monday night to allow for such a designation in the area.
"The very real fact is Route 70 needs barriers," said Patrolman Doug Higgins, Manchester Police Department's Traffic Safety Officer, in the release. "The long, unlit, narrow, non-center medium road is a major contributor to many of these accidents. Route 70 is one of the most dangerous roads in the state."
Chief Eric Higgins of Lakehurst also called on the Pinelands Commission to find a solution that is environmentally sustainable while taking human life into account.
An online petition is being circulated by Rambo's family with the hope of creating safe corridors along Route 70. According to the petition, such corridors have not made it into a wish list for 2013 New Jersey Department of Transportation capital projects.
"This road has been virtually unchanged since the 1930s" and "is inappropriate for use in 2012," the petition states.
Last week, a township woman was killed and a Toms River woman was seriously injured in Whiting in a head-on collision on Route 70.
Safe corridor designations are determined based on "accident rates, fatalities, traffic volume and other highway traffic safety criteria," according to state legislation. A list of highways meeting that designation is available from the NJDOT.
Manchester's Township Council in April also questioned the highway's safety. After a string of crashes on Route 70 in the township, members passed a resolution asking for help from New Jersey officials.
"The state Department of Transportation has failed to move forward with a greatly needed plan to widen this section of Route 70 and address these serious concerns," states the council resolution directed to the NJDOT, township officials and 10th Legislative District representatives.
The resolution passed by the council in April urges the NJDOT to evaluate Route 70 in Manchester to "determine a solution to alleviate traffic and address the often dangerous and fatal accidents" on the highway.
Rambo's family said that help could come from the transportation department's Cross Median Accident Prevention Program, which since 2002 "identifies locations where cross-median head-on collisions have occurred and provides median barriers designed to prevent such occurrences at identified locations," according to the state.
Pemberton Chief of Police David Jantas said in a statement that "many innocent people die by unsafe drivers" because of these median crossovers.
"These accidents, like the one that killed Ocean County Detective Tina Rambo on milepost 21, can be drastically reduced by the erection of barriers and the widening of the roads," he said.