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Traffic Engineer: Proposed South Middlebush Road Temples Won’t Affect Traffic

Traffic engineer Elizabeth Dolan said that two proposed temples on South Middlebush Road would not have a negative effect on traffic.

Two proposed temples targeted for opposite sides of South Middlebush Road won’t have a negative affect on traffic, the Zoning Board of Adjustment was told on May 6.

The Board’s hearing was for one of the proposed temples, the Dada Bhagwan Vignan Institute, a 21,000-square-foot temple proposed for a plot of land next to Snyder’s Farm.

This was the sixth hearing on the application. The temple’s attorney, Peter Lanfrit, told the Zoning Board that he expected to have one final witness when the application is taken up at the Board’s May 20 session.

Lanfrit will also represent Sai Datta Mandir, the second group wishing to build a temple called “Shirdi in America” on South Middlebush Road.

Traffic engineer Elizabeth Dolan is on Lanfrit’s team for both applications. While testifying about the potential traffic impact of the Dada Bhagwan temple, Dolan added that she was asked by the Somerset County engineering department to analyze the impact to the road of both proposed temples.

Dolan said she used a 2019 traffic study on both applications, adding that the 2019 figures are still useful because they measured traffic on the road pre-COVID-19.

Dolan said she estimated traffic entering and leaving teh site based on teh assumption that the majority of congregants will be on the site during one peak hour, which, she said, would not happen because of the “flowing” nature of worship at both of the planned temples.

“This is a very conservative analysis, assuming the site will load up at once, and that is not what is going to happen,” she said. “I concluded that there’s ample capacity on South Middlebush Road, even at pre-Covid volumes, to accommodate this use.”

Dolan said that while the Dada Bhagwan Institute will primarily have worshipers on Fridays, with weekend services twice a year, the Sai Datta temple will be used Mondays through Thursdays.

Speaking of the Dada Bhagwan application, Dolan said, “I look at this as a low-impact, off peak type of use.”

A number of area residents called in to the hearing to question Dolan, but she did not waiver in her opinion.

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