Two years ago, city residents and students came together to mourn the loss of one of their own, who was hit by a car while walking along Route 130.
Antwan Timbers Jr. was 17 when he was hit walking home with a friend shortly after midnight in May 2016 along the highway, which has repeatedly been named the state’s most dangerous road for pedestrians due to its high death toll. Timbers’ death was one of a state-high 50 traffic fatalities in Burlington County that year.
His classmates decided that something needed to be done in his honor, so they decided to work with then-state Sen. Diane Allen, R-7th of Edgewater Park, to create a package of bills to make the roadway safer.
After two years of work, legislation to reduce the speed on the roadway was adopted by the Assembly on Monday, after it was adopted by the Senate in April. The bill will become law if signed by Gov. Phil Murphy.
Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, D-7th of Mount Laurel, said during the voting session in the Assembly on Monday that she was sponsoring the bill “in memory of Antwan Timbers” and on behalf of Principal Jim Flynn and the students of Burlington City High School. The measure passed 74-0, with three abstentions.
“In the wake of this tragic incident, this bill is a commonsense measure to protect pedestrians and students who regularly cross Route 130 to utilize everyday amenities,” Murphy said. “I applaud the efforts of Antwan’s former classmates and the Burlington City High School administration for championing this legislation and enacting positive change in our community.”
The bill reduces the speed limit to 25 mph on the highway near Burlington City High School, located between High Street and Jacksonville Road on Route 130 North, and Wilbur Watts Intermediate School between Wood and High streets on Route 130 South. Currently, the speed limit is 40 mph in that area, except when it’s 25 mph during peak hours when students are going to or leaving the schools.
Along with lowering the speed limit on that section of Route 130, the bill reduces the area leading up to the school zone to 35 mph. It also triples the fine for speeding in the designated area. Fines are dependent on many miles over the limit a motorist is driving.
“No student should feel like his or her life in danger while walking to and from school during the week or going to the convenience store on the weekend, but that’s the reality for many Burlington students,” said Assemblyman Herb Conaway, D-7th of Delran, a co-sponsor of the bill. “In honor of Antwan and all those who have tragically lost their lives on Route 130, this legislation would make this portion of Route 130 safer for pedestrians.”
Besides the schools, the section of the roadway also contains commercial properties, such as a convenience store, two fast food restaurants, two pizzerias, a pharmacy and an ice cream parlor that students and residents visit. By reducing the speed throughout the entire section, lawmakers said it would make visiting those establishments a bit easier for pedestrians.
“This section of Route 130 is an active business section frequented by students going about their daily routine,” said Assemblyman Daniel Benson, D-14th of Hamilton, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Reducing the speed limit will caution drivers to be vigilant and to slow down whether school is in session or not.”