The most recent pedestrian to be struck and killed by a car on North Bergen’s busy Tonnelle Avenue was 40-year-old Argelio Marrero of Union City, who was crossing at 51st street and Tonnelle Avenue at 12:39 a.m. on the morning of July 4. Marrero was sent to Jersey City Medical Center where he was pronounced dead around 1:30 a.m.
He was allegedly struck by a 70 year-old Jersey City resident driving a Toyota Sequoia SUV. The driver has been charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) and death by auto.
Tonnelle Avenue, already plagued by congestion due to construction, has also become a safety hazard with at least three fatal accidents in the North Bergen stretch of the road within the past year. All have occurred at night to pedestrians trying to cross the busy roadway.
“We’re running radar in that area.” - Police Chief William Galvin
“We’re running radar in that area,” said Police Chief William Galvin last week. “We’re also looking into making turns only to go north...the only place you’d be able to make a left is where there’s a traffic signal.”
Police are reportedly also monitoring the area in unmarked and patrol cars.
Galvin said it’s difficult to speed-trap the area because there is no shoulder on the side of the road for radar-equipped police cars to park. The police may ask businesses and the New Durham Baptist Church that are close to the scene of the accidents to allow the police vehicles to park on their property to monitor traffic.
Galvin says he’d like to paint “Slow” or “Be Careful” signs on the road surface. He would also like to add more signage, but police would have to get permission from the state, since Tonnelle Avenue is a state highway.
Galvin said their focus is from 43rd street to 61st street.
He said that the addition of the Tonnelle Avenue station for the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail has generated more pedestrian traffic. Galvin urges that train commuters use the west exit rather than the east exit from the station to ensure safety.
Since all the accidents occurred at night, Det. Frank Mena has suggested that increasing the lighting in the area would help both pedestrians and drivers. He also believes that guard rails would be an effective tool.
In March, professional bodybuilder Omar Monroig, 42, was struck and killed on 51st Street and Tonnelle Avenue by a driver who fled the scene. Police are still searching for the driver, and the family is offering a $10,000 reward.
Last September, renowned artist Robert Loughlin was killed at 48th Street after being struck by a car as he crossed Tonnelle Avenue at 11:15 p.m. He was returning to his home in the Manhattan Trailer Park after feeding stray cats. Police arrested the driver of that vehicle.
Several non-fatal accidents have taken place in and near the parking lot of the shopping center at 88th Street and Tonnelle as well.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org