By: Rhiannon Marie Volpe
In 2005, we learned of the plan to rebuild the Blackwood Campus of Camden County College. This construction was to be a six-year, $83 million capital initiative. On August 4, 2009, road construction began on College Drive, from Peter Cheeseman Road to Orr Road. According to Edward Carney, Executive Director for Public Safety at Camden County College, this road closure was expected to be complete by September 1, 2009. Carney, as well as the Gloucester Township Police Department, has announced that as of November 25, 2009, College Drive has officially reopened.
On September 14, 2009, Sean Warren, 26-year-old Blackwood resident and photography major at Camden County College, was involved in a car accident on College Drive. This was his first day of class as a new student at Camden County College. Warren was coming from Camden Tool, his place of employment located in Camden, NJ.
Warren was traveling on College Drive on his way to class and experiencing “ridiculously tight” traffic in the construction area. He had to brake for the Jeep in front of him. As Warren’s Ford Bronco came to a halt, he heard screeching tires from the Volkswagen behind. The automobile rear-ended Warren, pushing his stopped vehicle into the Jeep ahead. While the Jeep sustained minor damages, the two other vehicles involved had to be towed. The Bronco’s left rear was damaged, and the gas tank was leaking all over the road. Warren believes that the road closure and construction caused the terrible traffic and perhaps anxiety of the person that rear-ended him.
Special Officer Eric Marconi, Badge #9831, 24-year-old Blackwood resident, liberal studies major at Rowan University, and part-time Camden County College student, has noticed the major delays the College Drive construction has caused. Marconi notes, “The problem has been closing the entire length of College Drive between the Black Horse Pike and Peter Cheeseman Road and not providing adequate detours.” Marconi goes on to describe that vehicles exiting Route 42 at Sicklerville Road should have been detoured and rerouted to Hickstown Road to enter Camden County College. Marconi also mentions that the few detours that were put in place were not clearly marked.
The construction company has attempted to assist with the traffic delays by posting signs and warnings on message boards. The local police have been hired for off-duty employment to an entrance of the Blackwood campus, as well as several intersections during specified times of the day when heavy traffic is anticipated. An officer assigned at the campus entrance on Peter Cheeseman Road worked to assist motorists entering and exiting the college. An officer working the intersection would manually control the traffic lights to assist with the flow of traffic.
Marconi has not noticed an increase in motor vehicle crashes near the Blackwood campus of Camden County College since the construction began. He states, “Most of the accidents seem to happen on the campus itself, which can be understandable due to the amount of students enrolled during the course of a semester.”