Robbinsville threatens to shut down Amazon warehouse over massive traffic
Robbinsville Township Mayor Dave Fried is threatening to file a lawsuit against Amazon after a senior official from the company failed to show at a meeting on Wednesday to discuss heavy traffic generated by the company's fulfillment center.
Operations at the warehouse on New Canton Way have ramped up for the holidays creating "gridlock" on Old York Road, Gordon Road, Routes 526 and 539, officials said.
Fried told New Jersey 101.5 that the warehouse — which he said Amazon has called it's "busiest on the planet" — started to cause issues during the 2014 holiday season, the first the facility was open for business.
"We met with Amazon in September to prepare for this season," and Amazon said they would prepare a report and work with the Township to develop a plan, Fried said.
However, Fried said only a public relations person came to Wednesday's meeting.
"What this tells me is Amazon is not taking this situation very seriously," wrote Fried on the Township website. "Children cannot get to school, residents cannot pull out of their driveways, and this has become a very serious public safety issue," noting that the neighboring communities of Upper Freehold and Allentown are affected.
Amazon spokesman Aaron Toso wrote in an email that “we are proud of creating more than 4,000 regular, full-time jobs here in the Robbinsville community. Given the seasonal peaks of our business we have added an additional couple thousand more seasonal employees and we realize that this has created localized traffic issues."
The statement continues:
"To date we have invested more than $300,000 in supporting the Z-line bus route that brings employees from Trenton directly to our fulfillment center. Currently, about 10 percent of our employees get to work on the Z-line. We have also begun another shuttle service that is free to employees and leaves from the Trenton Thunder parking lot. Additionally, we hire five off-duty police officers during each shift change to help assist with traffic flow around the Matrix Business Park. We are committed to continue working with the mayor and local authorities to mitigate these issues through our peak season.”
Toso did not respond to a follow-up pointing out that township officials were expecting regional director of operations Tim Hall at Wednesday's meeting.
Fried said he wants a Mercer County judge to order Amazon to keep to the original 1,000 daily trips Amazon was approved for in 2012. During the holiday season that number has ballooned to 5,000 daily trips, or about 2,000 trips in the morning and 3,000 in the afternoon, he said.
"If a judge rules they are not in compliance, Robbinsville Township will attempt to shut the Amazon Fulfillment Center down until it is in compliance," said Fried.
The number of accidents has also increased from six accidents in the fall to 25 accidents that can be attributed to Amazon workers over the past six weeks, Fried said. Amazon is picking up the cost of extra police to direct traffic and adjust the traffic lights to improve the flow of traffic.
Some of the proposed solutions include traffic light timing adjustments, enforcement of park-and-ride programs for Amazon employees, adjustments to Amazon employee shift schedules and the future addition of more lanes and roads.
Amazon is one of several warehouses in the area along Route 195 and the New Jersey Turnpike.
"We have several Fortune 500 companies with warehouses in that area" including Mercedes Benz and Green Mountain Coffee that have not had such an impact, Fried said.
This week's Cyber Monday is expected to be the biggest online shopping day ever, likely racking up more than $3 billion in sales, according to research firm comScore.