Using Traffic Lights to Mark Time
A Journey into River Edge
In a town that is challenged with traffic congestion daily (except for Sundays thanks to the Blue Laws), it might be hard to believe that it is not all that long ago that the installation of a traffic light was a big deal in town.
It was as late as the mid-1950’s that River Edge was, in fact, a three traffic light town
Back then all three lights were located on Kinderkamack Road (There was also a traffic light along Route 4 where the pedestrian bridge is now located).
The first Kinderkamack Road light was at the three-way intersection with Lincoln Avenue and River Edge Road.
The second was at the intersection of Kinderkamack and Main Street. The third light was a block to the south at the intersection of Kinderkamack and Grand Avenue (a Sunoco Station on the corner where the office building now stands).
This light at Grand Avenue was a “newer” 1950’s version –not too dissimilar from modern day lights.
The other two intersections were graced by earlier vintage traffic lights – no poles overhanging the road – rather they were about 6-10 feet tall on the side of the road.
One of the poles stood in front of the A&P was set on a “temporary” stand that stood for some 25 years.
The pole on the other side of the street by the Gulf Station was a more permanent circa 1930’s fixture.
A similar four side light could be found at the corner near Critchley’s Candies. However, at that time the lights at that intersection were not synchronized as they are today. Therefore, a green light could apply both to River Edge Road and Kinderkamack traffic heading north bound. It could be challenging.
River Edge remained a three light town for a long time.
The next light was installed in the early 1960’s on Kinderkamack at Voorhis near the River Edge Diner.
For many years a number of major intersections in town had no traffic lights – such as Main Street and Hackensack Avenue; Kinderkamack and Midland, and Kinderkamack and Continental. Instead, there were only stop signs.
Moreover, for a long time railroad crossings had no gates.
Those locations were notorious as dangerous spots – for too many years locals clamored for improvements to little avail.
It was until a number of people were killed (including many trying to beat oncoming trains) that changes started to come.
That was in the 1970’s.
A widening project at Midland brought at new traffic light. But it also meant the cutting down of a 200 year old tree that had stood just to the north of the intersection in front of what is now Kinderkamack Bagels.
It was also in the 1970’s that the first traffic lights within River Edge’s local streets (beyond Kinderkamack, Main Street, Hackensack Avenue and Route 4) arrived.
The first was at the top of Cherry Hill – at the corner of Bogert and Howland, for years a troublesome corner because of blind spots on the hills of Howland Avenue.
Later, additional lights were added along Fifth Avenue – at Continental and at Midland.
The most recent installation was the at the corner of Kinderkamack and Howland – but to most of us now it was no big deal.
It was clear to old timers that in so many ways, we were not a three light town anymore.