After Amazon causes major traffic in Robbinsville, relief may be on the way
Robbinsville and Amazon have come to an agreement to address severe traffic problems officials said created gridlock throughout town during record-breaking online holiday shopping.
Amazon began a new schedule on Wednesday that staggers the peak hour shifts of employees over a 90 minute period instead of 30 minutes, according to the township.
"We were able to work out a solution that will hopefully satisfy everyone,’’ said Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried, who said that residents along Route 539, Route 526, Gordon Road and Old York Road who complained about congestion should see a "significant reduction" in traffic.
Amazon employees and workers in the Matrix Business Park should also have an easier time with their commute as well.
"I am very appreciative that members Amazon’s senior operations team came today to collaborate with us in order to make these proposed changes happen," Fried said in an announcement from the township.
Fried had previously said traffic was so bad in town "children cannot get to school, residents cannot pull out of their driveways, and this has become a very serious public safety issue."
Fried told New Jersey 101.5's Bill Spadea Friday morning that after some traffic problems last Christmas when the fulfillment center was not fully operation the township met with Amazon to start planning for this season and strongly suggested that staggered shifts be implemented.
"Unfortunately they've been resisting since that meeting in September" because it would change the way the company does things," he said. "Change is scary for everyone."
"Altering operations at the busiest time of the year is not a simple task," wrote Amazon spokesman Aaron Toso in a statement from the company. "Many of our associates have families with children in school or child care concerns. We must continue to balance our associates needs with those outside of our fulfillment center and believe that this plan provides an appropriate balance."
Fried had been frustrated after Tim Hall, Amazon's regional director of operations, failed to show for a scheduled meeting on Wednesday. Fried threatened to go to court to hold Amazon to its 2012 agreement for 1,000 trips daily in-and-out of the fulfillment center. That number has grown to 5,000 since November and the start of the holiday season.
"The last thing we wanted to do was shut down Amazon," said Fried, but cited his concern for public safety and said that an ambulance would have a tough time getting in-and-out of that area. "My job is to make sure all the companies in the Matrix Business Park follow the rules equally."
The mayor expects traffic around the fulfillment Fried said Amazon calls "its busiest on the planet" to return to normal levels on Dec. 23.
“These efforts have helped take cars off the road and alleviate some congestion,’’ Tim Hall, Amazon Regional Director of Operations, said. “We realized challenges still remain and we have been working to address the issue.” Another meeting is scheduled for Dec. 16 to discuss a long term solution to traffic issues and next year's holiday season.
Another holiday related traffic issue popped up on the New Jersey Turnpike as truckers headed for the port area has created miles-long traffic approaching exit 14A for the Turnpike's Hudson Extension. A meeting is scheduled on Friday to discuss how to alleviate the problem.