Study proposes strategies for linking and revitalizing communities along Irvington Avenue through Complete Streets and improved public spaces

Proposed streetscape improvements to Irvington Avenue in Newark and Maplewood

Proposed streetscape improvements to Irvington Avenue in Newark and Maplewood

 January 24, 2015

Together North Jersey has announced the release of the Irvington Avenue Corridor project final report. The Local Demonstration Project report provides a set of strategies to better connect areas of South Orange, Newark, Maplewood and Irvington located along Irvington Avenue.

The county roads that connect the communities of North Jersey are one of the defining characteristics of the region’s landscape. Irvington Avenue, which winds through South Orange, Newark, Maplewood and Irvington, is one such example.  The Irvington Avenue: Creating a Complete Corridor plan re-envisions this important car-oriented corridor as a Complete Street that accommodates all modes of transportation and boasts vibrant public spaces that enable new development.  The project also seeks to establish the corridor’s eastern end as a new regional destination, “Maplewood Corners.”

The Irvington Avenue Corridor, though only one and a half miles long, is made up of several distinct sections, each with its own characteristics and ongoing planning initiatives. In South Orange, Irvington Avenue is an important, but underutilized link between communities. Here, the road has the potential to become a mixed-use street connecting the emerging college neighborhood around Seton Hall University with the downtown. In Newark, the Ivy Hill shopping center is undergoing renovations on the side facing the avenue to improve its appearance and access for pedestrians. In Maplewood, the Township has prioritized the Clinton Avenue crossroads, an underperforming cluster of neighborhood shops, as an area for revitalization.

A central feature of the plan is to develop a corridor-long bike route within the avenue’s existing-right-of way. This has the potential to better unite the communities. It will also increase potential for transit-oriented development by allowing people to come from greater distances to the South Orange Train Station without relying on a car.  On the eastern end of the Irvington Avenue Corridor, the plan proposes a strategy for how to transform “Maplewood Corners” into a place locals, as well as the broader community, will want to visit and stay. This strategy is focused on:

  • Rebranding Maplewood’s commercial section of the corridor as “Maplewood Corners”, and establish it as a unique niche market within the area.
  • Enhancing the public spaces and organize the Maplewood Corners merchants to create a managed area.
  • Fostering mixed use infill development

“The Irvington Avenue Corridor plan is an extremely useful resource that will inform the future development of the corridor,” said Maplewood Municipal Prosecutor Annette DePalma. “Enhancing pedestrian safety, improving public spaces, and making roads accessible for all modes of transportation, will both attract new opportunities for development and support ongoing revitalization efforts. It will be exciting to implement visible changes across all the communities involved.”

One of the most important project outcomes is that South Orange, Maplewood and Newark have created an Irvington Avenue Corridor Working Group to improve mobility and wayfinding (i.e. improved signage and other means of directing people to commercial areas and other amenities). The group took its first step forward with a joint grant application with Essex County to the FHWA’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) for implementation of the Irvington Avenue Complete Street Plan.

Proposed intersection of Irvington Avenue and Clinton/Parker Avenues in Maplewood

Proposed intersection of Irvington Avenue and Clinton/Parker Avenues in Maplewood

The project is one of 18 Local Demonstration Projects (LDPs) undertaken by Together North Jersey. Conducted from February to June 2014, the Plan was completed by a steering committee comprised of Maplewood Township, the Township of South Orange Village, the City of Newark, Essex County, Maplewood Chamber of Commerce, NJ TRANSIT, and local businesses and organizations Adassa Day Care, Diamond Gym, Garden Academy, and the Unified Vailsburg Services Organization. The Project Team, led by Perkins Eastman Architects, included Larisa Ortiz Associates and Fitzgerald & Halliday.

The final report can be accessed at www.togethernorthjersey.com.

The Edward J. Bloustein School for Planning and Policy, along with several other agencies and organizations around the region, provides the organizational capacity and expertise necessary to execute day-to-day the work of Together North Jersey. Technical assistance for individual LDPs is provided by one of NJ TRANSIT’s three existing “on-call” Transit Friendly Planning, Land Use and Development Task Order Consultant teams. These teams are led by Perkins Eastman Architects; Looney Ricks Kiss Architects; and the Regional Plan Association.

For more information on Together North Jersey or the Local Demonstration Project Program, contact Miriam Salerno at miriam.salerno@ejb.rutgers.edu or visit www.togethernorthjersey.com.

Proposed pocket park at the end of Hillcrest Road

Proposed pocket park at the end of Hillcrest Road

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