The Most Dangerous Intersection in Morris County Is in Our Backyard


Rising rates of fatal accidents, a flurry of proposed construction updates, and a national register of historic places preventing development.

The most hazardous intersection in our county, based on the total number of motor vehicle accidents in the last ten years, is the intersection of Columbia Turnpike and Normandy Parkway in Morris Township.

In 2019, there were eleven motor vehicle crashes, nine injuries requiring medical treatment, and thirteen traffic summonses issued for motor vehicle violations. The intersection of Columbia and Normandy is not the most popular location of travel in Morris County but still holds the highest rate of accidents and the rate is only climbing.

In 2016 Morris Township saw 500 reported motor vehicle accidents, the next year that number rose to 518, then 602 in 2018, and 571 motor vehicle accidents in 2019. On average, accidents in Morris Township have risen at a rate of +17.75 per year since 2016.

To combat the increasing rate of motor vehicle accidents at this dangerous intersection, the Morris Township Police Department published a 2019 annual report on accidents where they suggested relocating resources from less dangerous intersections to the intersection at Columbia Turnpike and Normandy Parkway. Additionally, intersection analysis training is available to all officers of the Morris Township Police Department.

There have been several construction projects over the years that attempted to rectify the increasing rate of accidents in this area. Columbia Turnpike was expanded to include more lanes, updated traffic lights were implemented, and a larger police presence can be seen at the intersection now as an attempt to encourage slow, safe driving. However, accidents at the intersection have continued to rise in number despite the efforts of the town and police departments.

It is important to note that the area near and around the intersection of Columbia Turnpike and Normandy Parkway is a historical landmark, protected by the National Park Service since December of 1996. Thus, many projects that attempt to update the intersection are met with severe critique.

Normandy Park’s historical significance dates back to 1855 with John Dodd Canfield, President of the Morristown Land and Improvement Company. The area is protected for its historical significance, architecture, and community planning and development that began with Canfield and company in 1855.

The historical classification of the Normandy Park area has inhibited the development of many safety features in the area such as pouring sidewalks and putting up dividers.

A long list of major accidents occurred at the Columbia Turnpike and Normandy Parkway intersection. In May of 2012, a school bus from Normandy Park School was rear-ended by a Subaru wagon at the intersection, and although the crash was minor, 20 children were sent to the hospital. A summons was issued to Rhonda Lenzen, driver of the Subaru, for reckless driving, and all the children were released from the hospital the same day.

That same year just a month prior, a bicyclist was struck by a car at the intersection and critically injured. When police responded, the bicyclist was discovered on the road unconscious and immediately transported to the hospital.

It is incidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists that seem to concern Morris Township residents most of all. There has been a long-time call to construct more sidewalks in Morris Township, specifically near the intersection of Columbia Turnpike and Normandy Parkway.

This call would be hard to answer considering the historical protection status of the area, but even if sidewalks were to be constructed near the intersection, this wouldn’t help bicyclists.

An ordinance, put in place in September of 2021, prohibits all motorized, electric, or ridden vehicles, such as bikes, from riding on the sidewalks in Morris Township. The only exception is for children under twelve years of age who may ride on sidewalks.

Attempts to rectify the high accident rate at the intersection of Columbia Turnpike and Normandy Parkway took place in 2020, but the attempt seems to have failed as the number of accidents at this dangerous location continues to rise.

Do you regularly drive through or by this dangerous intersection? Let us know in the comments and tell us what you think should be done to protect Morris Township residents.

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