By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Regina Lewallen has some simple words of advice for drivers in Sea Isle City: Slow down.
No, she’s not a traffic cop.
But for the last two years, the Sea Isle resident has appeared at City Council meetings to complain about motorists blatantly speeding through town, especially on Landis Avenue, the main traffic artery.
She wants the city to do something about it.
“I have seen horrendous driving all summer long. I’m going to keep coming here until someone takes it seriously,” Lewallen said at Tuesday’s Council meeting.
Council President J.B. Feeley assured Lewallen that Sea Isle officials share her concerns about speeding.
“We do take it seriously,” Feeley told her.
Lewallen, who lives at 74th Street and Landis Avenue, said she sees motorists “fly by” all the time – well above the posted 25 mph speed limit on Landis.
“As a resident who lives on Landis Avenue, I witness excessive speeding on a daily basis and I speak out to raise awareness on this issue,” she said.
Landis Avenue is actually a county road, not a city street. Earlier in the year, city officials urged Lewallen to reach out to the county to express her concerns. When she did contact the county, she was asked whether she had spoken to Sea Isle police about speeding on Landis Avenue. The county told her to put her concerns in writing, she said.
Sea Isle Police Chief Anthony Garreffi told Lewallen at Tuesday’s Council meeting that his officers have been issuing tickets this summer for speeding and other moving violations, including failure to stop for pedestrians.
“They’re out there. They’re writing (tickets),” Garreffi said of police.
Police issued 129 moving violations in July and 90 in August, Garreffi said. He added that his officers are doing more than just writing tickets to enforce traffic safety.
Garreffi took notes while speaking privately to Lewallen after the Council meeting. Lewallen said Garreffi made her feel more comfortable that police are serious about targeting speeders.
In an earlier appearance before Council, Lewallen suggested that the city should launch a “friendly driver campaign” to educate motorists about the importance of following the speed limits around town.
“I think overall around town, people are more aggressive and less courteous,” she said in an interview.
At Tuesday’s Council meeting, she reiterated her suggestion for the city to install a traffic light on Landis Avenue halfway between 63rd and 85th streets as a way to slow down motorists. Currently, there are no traffic lights on that 22-block stretch of Landis, she said.
Lewallen also complained about speeding on Central Avenue, which has a posted speed limit of 25 mph. She said both Landis and Central “are crazy.”
She also wants to city to place more warning signs on roads and to consider installing speed bumps.
Expressing concerns about accidents, Lewallen she heard that a pedestrian was hit by a car at 50th Street and Landis Avenue on Aug. 1. Garreffi, however, said the only incident he knew of was a minor accident that involved a pedestrian being struck by a bicyclist.
Traffic safety has been a major focus in Sea Isle this year on a number of fronts.
Council approved an ordinance on March 28 that lowered the speed limit on Park Road from 25 mph to 15 mph in response to complaints from neighbors about speeding.
Park Road is only about seven blocks long, stretching from John F. Kennedy Boulevard to 48th Street. But as a direct link to the JFK Boulevard entryway into Sea Isle, Park Road is often used as an artery for inbound and outbound traffic.
The road also passes through the historic Fish Alley neighborhood, an enclave of some of Sea Isle’s most popular waterfront restaurants. Park Road also serves as a route to the Sea Isle City Library at 48th Street and Central Avenue.
In another traffic safety measure, the busy intersection of 44th Street and Central Avenue was given an overhaul this summer. The improvements included the installation of new stop signs with LED flashing red lights to give motorists plenty of warning to come to a full stop.
In addition, the words “Stop Ahead” were painted on the road in white letters so big that it is virtually impossible for drivers not to see them as they approach the intersection of 44th and Central.
The city also improved visibility at the intersection by expanding the no-parking zones near 44th and Central. Yellow lines indicating no-parking zones have been extended.
All of the changes are designed to make the intersection safer for both motorists and pedestrians.