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Breaking news & local stories from Camden City, Berlin, Laurel Springs and more

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    In their respective counties, average property tax bills in these 21 towns represent the smallest share of median income.


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    Another new collection of teams make the jump into the Top 20.


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    Where are Jersey's top high school alums playing college soccer?


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    Some we miss, and we're glad others are gone.

    2015-candid019-bradleybeach.JPGAnd some just didn't make any sense at all. Courtesy of the Ayres collection 

    Times certainly have changed.

    When I was a kid, a "hand-held device" would've been an Etch-A-Sketch. The mechanism on a car that warned you when you were drifting out of your lane was the horn on the car you were about to bang into. And a mobile phone was one that wasn't attached to the wall in the kitchen.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    In this gallery, we look at a variety of things from the past, divided between those we were sorry to see go and those we waved "bye-bye" to happily. Some things that seemed to be gone forever are starting to make a comeback, like home delivery of milk; others are just distant and unpleasant memories, like stepping on a pull tab while barefoot or climbing on the roof to adjust the TV antenna.

    What have we missed? Let us know in the comments. And here are some related galleries you might enjoy:

    Vintage photos of how things have changed in N.J.

    Vintage photos of 'sketchy' N.J. activities

    Vintage photos of New Jerseyans engaged in 'dicey' activities

    Greg Hatala may be reached at ghatala@starledger.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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    Det. Rafael Martinez Jr. is facing sexual assault charges.

    CAMDEN -- A 32-year-old Camden cop has been charged with sexually assaulting a juvenile after a 15-year-old girl gave birth to his child, according to the Camden County Prosecutor.

    Camden County Police Department Det. Rafael Martinez Jr. was suspended without pay after the criminal complaint was filed in Gloucester Township, according to county spokesman Dan Keashen.

    Martinez admitted he was the father and signed the baby's birth certificate the night it was born in mid-August, according to a probable cause statement. The girl told investigators that she and Martinez had had sex on multiple occasions at his home from September of 2016 until Aug. 18.

    A DNA sample from the girl, Martinez and the baby also confirmed he was the father, authorities said.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at bduhart@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    The contract will simply allow plans to be made -- it would take $27 million to reopen the station.

    PHILADELPHIA -- A $2 million contract to develop plans to reopen the long abandoned Franklin Square Park PATCO station is in the works, according to Philly.com

    The contract was approved by the Delaware River Port Authority board of commissioners at Wednesday's meeting. According to the meeting notes, the board authorized the negotiation of a two-year $2,087,352 contract with Burns Engineering, Inc. to provide design and construction support services for the reopening. The notes outlined that the contract would create the plans for the station's structural, civil, mechanical and electrical systems to be upgraded. It would also allow the station to be reassessed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

    Philly.com reported that the stop has a history of opening and closing. It was first opened in 1936 but closed due to inconsistent activity. It reopened for a short run of three years in 1976 but was abandoned until talks to reopen started up again in 2002.

    John Hanson, DRPA's chief executive officer, told Philly.com that requirements have changed for the stations during the long periods of inactivity and that the new plans would have to include those updates.

    After an investment of $27 million, the report continued, the station could reopen as soon as 2022 with an estimated 1,300 users daily thanks to growth in Camden and Philadelphia. 

    However, there is no guarantee that it will happen. 

    Caitlyn Stulpin may be reached at cstulpin@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @caitstulpin. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    The 33-year-old died at the hospital nearly five hours after being struck by gunfire

    CAMDEN -- A 33-year-old Camden man was shot and killed in the city early Friday, authorities said. 

    Khareem Roberts was found with gunshot wounds on the 1200 block of Jackson Street around 1:17 a.m., Camden County police said in a statement.

    Roberts was taken to Cooper University Hospital, but was pronounced dead at 6:05 a.m.

    Police haven't made any arrests as they continue to investigate.

    Anyone with information is asked to call Camden County Prosecutor's Office Det. James Brining at (856) 225-8439 or Camden County Police Det. Sean Miller at (856) 757-7420. Information may also be emailed to ccpotips@ccprosecutor.org.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

     

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    Check out the athletes who can beat a team with their arms and their legs


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    There are over 400 NJ girls playing D1 soccer. Check out which college has the most.


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    Your one-stop shop for Week 3.

    Below is NJ.com's mega-coverage guide for Week 3. Keep track of schedules, predictions, previews, features and breaking news from around the state all the way up until kickoff.

    ESSENTIALS 
    LIVE updates, results & links for Week 3
    Bold predictions for Week 3

    30 must-see games for Week 3
    Week 3 schedule/scoreboard
    • Schedule/scoreboard by conference
    • Statewide stat leaders through Week 2
     Power points updated through Week 2


    FEATUED: Best of both worlds - N.J.'s top dual-threat QBs


    RANKINGS 
    Top 20
    • Group and conference rankings

    PICKS 
    NJ.com predicts every winner in the state
    •  Scores and predictions for Top 20 teams
    Picks for each of N.J.'s six conferences

    MUST-READ CONTENT  
    Poaching players? Don Bosco accuses St. Joseph (Mont.)

    Delsea, Freehold Borough forfeit games for using ineligible players
    Streak busted: Newark East Side ends 5-year, 55-game skid
    • Mailbag: NJ.com's reporters answer your N.J. football questions

    Ahead of Week 3 game, Seton Hall views St. Peter's as mold for success

    Brothers, DePaul grads are adversaries when RU plays Nebraska
    Video replay for HS football? Refs, NJSIAA weigh options
    Playing football before age 12 has harmful effects, new study says 
    BC in Cali: Behind-the-scenes look at Bergen Catholic's trip
    •  Previewing Hightstown vs. Lawrence
    North Hunterdon, Voorhees making history  
    Hun's Holly, Steinert's Ali named POTW by Trenton Times 
    Which N.J. alums shined during Week 3 of college football?

    A LOOK BACK AT WEEK 2 
    Results and links for Week 2
    36 standouts who shined during Week 2 
    Hot takes from Week 2: Key results and performances

    Week 2 stat leaders 
    •  Best photos from Week 2

    RECRUITING NEWS  
    Exclusive: DePaul's Kris Banks decommits from Boston College
    NJ.com Top 50 football roundup: In-season recruiting continues
    In-depth with 4-star QB, N.J. native Artur Sitkowski after Rutgers visit 
    Ranking Rutgers' top football recruiters: Who's No. 1 in Piscataway? 

    Pat Lanni may be reached at planni@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @PatLanniHS. Like NJ.com High School Sports on Facebook.


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    In 2011, the county created a website letting people look up current and former jail inmates.

    DOYLESTOWN, Pa. -- A lawyer for a man who sued a Pennsylvania county jail for posting his mug shot online says as many as 70,000 former inmates could have claims in a class-action lawsuit.

    Jonathan Shub represents Daryoush Taha, a New Jersey man arrested on disorderly conduct and other charges in 1998. Those charges were expunged two years later.

    Male officers strip searched me, put me in jail with men, woman says in suit

    Taha sued the Bucks County jail after his mug shot and arrest information were included in 2011, when the county created a website letting people look up current and former jail inmates. After the lawsuit, the county removed all mug shots and most inmates' arrest information two years later.

    The county is appealing a judge's ruling last year that it violated federal law and that Taha's case can go forward as a class action.

     

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    Breaking down some of the top teams and players around N.J. from the past week.


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    A look at the top trends, players and teams through Sept. 21.


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    The Gloucester City resident admitted that he robbed the victim at gunpoint.

    Kerwin L. Matthews.jpgKerwin L. Matthews, 53, of Gloucester City. (Salem County Correctional Facility)
     

    WOODBURY -- A Gloucester City man was sentenced to five years in state prison Friday after admitting to robbing a dollar store employee at gunpoint, according to the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office.

    Kerwin L. Matthews, 53, pleaded guilty to a second degree robbery charge in the May 28 holdup of an employee in the parking lot of a Family Dollar in West Deptford.

    He approached the employee at closing time and took her lunch bag, which was valued at $10, prosecutors said.

    Matthews was arrested the same day and has remained in Salem County Correctional Facility since his arrest.

    A co-defendant, Melanie Thomas, 33, of Gloucester City, is charged with robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery in the incident.

    Matt Gray may be reached at mgray@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattGraySJT. Find the South Jersey Times on Facebook.


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    NJ.com's one-stop shop for all New Jersey football coverage this week/

    KEY LINKS
    Week 2 mega-coverage guide
    The NJ.com Top 20
    Statewide picks and schedule

    Week 3 schedule/scoreboard
    30 must-see games for Week 3
    22 bold predictions for Week 3

    FRIDAY FEATURED GAMES

    No. 5 Paramus Catholic at No. 3 Bergen Catholic, 7
    Live updates
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    South Brunswick at Piscataway, 7
    Live updates
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    North Bergen at Bloomfield, 7
    Live updates
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    Union at Elizabeth, 7
    Live updates
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    No. 8 Millville at St. Augustine, 6
    Live updates
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    Mount Olive at High Point, 7
    Live updates
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Triton at Cumberland, 6
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    Montgomery at Hunterdon Central, 7
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    Dickinson at Kearny, 7
    • Recap
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    Verona at Cedar Grove, 7
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Notre Dame at Hopewell Valley, 7
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Trenton at No. 13 Rancocas Valley, 7
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Allentown at Northern Burlington, 7
    Northern Burlington knows Allentown will be difficult assignment
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Hamilton West at West Windsor-Plainsboro South, 7
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Palmyra at New Egypt, 7
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Woodstown at Glassboro, 7
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Phillipsburg at No. 16 Bridgewater-Raritan, 7
    • Game story
    • Box score

    TOP 20 SCOREBOARD
    Friday
    • No. 3 Bergen Catholic at No. 5 Paramus Catholic, 7
    • No. 6 Timber Creek at Clearview, 7
    • No. 8 Millville at St. Augustine, 6
    • No. 9 Irvington at Smyrna (Del.), 7:30
    • No. 10 Don Bosco Prep at No. 4 DePaul, 7
    • No. 11 Lenape at Burlington Township, 7
    • No. 13 Rancocas Valley vs. Trenton, 7
    • No. 16 Bridgewater-Raritan vs. Phillipsburg, 7
    • No. 19 Westfield at Franklin, 7

    Saturday
    • No. 2 St. Peter's Prep at Seton Hall Prep, 1
    • No. 7 Pope John vs. Delbarton, 1
    • No. 12 Vineland at Egg Harbor, 7
    • No. 14 Manalapan vs. Old Bridge, 1                                       
    • No. 17 Red Bank Catholic at Ocean Township, 1
    • No. 18 River Dell at Westwood, 1
    • No. 20 Howell vs. Middletown North, 6:30

    SATURDAY LIVE COVERAGE
    Delbarton at No. 7 Pope John, 1
    No. 2 St. Peter’s Prep at Seton Hall Prep, 1
    • Ocean City at Cedar Creek, 1
    • No. 18 River Dell at Westwood, 2
    • No. 12 Vineland at Egg Harbor, 7

    No. 2 St. Peter’s Prep at Seton Hall Prep, 1
    SHP views St. Peter's as a mold for football success
    Live updates
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    Delbarton at No. 7 Pope John, 1
    Live updates
    • Game story
    • Box score

    No. 18 River Dell at Westwood, 2
    • Live updates
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    Ocean City at Cedar Creek, 1
    • Live updates
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    No. 12 Vineland at Egg Harbor, 7
    • Live updates
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    West Essex at Orange, 1
    • Recap
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    BC High (Mass.) at Hudson Catholic, 12
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Ewing at Nottingham, 12
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    Salem at Penns Grove, 12
    Explosive Penns Grove ready to take on rival Salem
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    Pemberton at Steinert, 12
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    Pingry at Pennington, 1:30
    • Game story
    • Box score

    St. Joseph (Ottawa) at Peddie, 2
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Lawrence at Hightstown, 7
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Gateway at Paulsboro, 11
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Clayton at Gloucester Catholic, 11
    • Game story
    • Box score

    COMPLETE STATEWIDE SCHEDULE/SCOREBOARD

    Jeremy Schneider may be reached at jschneider@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @J_Schneider. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    A look at the statement wins and big individual performances from Week 3 in New Jersey high school football


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    Keidron Alexander received hospital treatment and was then arrested.

    CAMDEN -- The photo of Kiedron Alexander's back shows his skin bubbling and peeling, raw, red flesh poking through.

    The image was taken by his lawyer after Alexander was treated at Kennedy Hospital in Stratford on the night he claims, according to court documents, that his girlfriend threw boiling water on him. That night, in January 2016, he said, his girlfriend was the first to reach the phone and she called 911.

    Police would later arrest Alexander, who was 32 at the time, for assault, despite the fact that he claims he never laid a hand on her. Three months later, the case was dismissed. Toni Telles, Alexander's attorney, said a judge did not find his girlfriend's testimony to be credible.

    Now, nearly two years after the domestic violence incident in their Pine Hill apartment - a town that had the 12th highest domestic violence rate in New Jersey in 2015, police figures show - Alexander is suing the agencies that arrested him, claiming he was targeted because he's a man.

    "People get in to arguments all the time, but the idea that the Camden County prosecutors or Pine Hill has a policy that forces an officer to choose who to arrest and arresting someone because of their gender should not be tolerated," Telles said. "They are not permitted by law to discriminate against certain protected categories and this includes sex and gender."

    Pine Hill borough counsel David Patterson said Wednesday the borough does not comment on pending litigation.

    Veteran trial attorney and Rutgers-Camden University law professor Victoria Chase specializes in local domestic violence cases. She has a different view of how police handle domestic violence complaints.

    "I can say that I do not share the perception the police are instructed in such a manner that the result is that men are unfairly arrested," Chase said. "Rather, as the statute requires, police are instructed to ascertain whether there is a visible sign of injury. Where one party has such a visible sign of injury, the person apparently causing the injury must be arrested. My perception is that police are in fact applying the visible sign of injury requirement without reference to gender."

    According to a study on violence between partners conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in 2014, 22 percent of women and 14 percent of men experienced severe physical violence from a partner in their lifetime. That violence could include things such as being hit with something hard, being kicked or beaten, or being burned on purpose, the study said. 

    After the alleged assault, police complaints were filed against both Alexander and his girlfriend. The complaint against Alexander said he allegedly "attempted to cause serious bodily injury" by "strangling his girlfriend around the neck with both hands" and by "smacking her in the face with her Uggs boot several times." 

    The complaint against his girlfriend said she "attempted to cause bodily injury" by "throwing boiling water on him during the course of a domestic dispute" causing "severe burning to his left ear, left shoulder and left side of his face." Both complaints listed simple assault as a charge.

    Alexander was arrested and held in Camden County jail for the better part of two days. The prosecutor's office referred the case back to municipal court and the charges were dismissed, according to court records. 

    There is no record of the girlfriend's arrest or prosecution, according to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office. Court documents also show Alexander won a restraining order against her.

    Alexander and his attorney are suing Pine Hill, its police department, the county prosecutor's office and the arresting officer. The suit was filed in Superior Court in January and moved to federal court in Camden this month.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at bduhart@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
     
     

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    The Valero gas station on Route 73 in Voorhees was robbed by an armed man early Saturday.

    VOORHEES -- Authorities say they are searching for a suspect in an early-morning armed holdup Saturday at a gas station.

    The incident took place around 12:30 a.m. at the Valero gas station at 129 Route 73, according to police.

    The man pointed a handgun at the station attendant and demanded money and the keys to the attendant's SUV. The robber fled from the station in the victim's Dodge Durango with an undisclosed amount of money, police said.

    Authorities say the suspect as a black man between 5-feet, 10-inches to 6-feet tall with a medium build. He was wearing a black mask, black jacket and dark pants, as well as black shoes and gloves, police said.

    1 held in armed robbery, 2 sought

    Authorities Saturday released grainy surveillance photos of the suspect.

    Police had not said whether the attendant's 2006 gray Dodge Durango had been located.

    Anyone with information is urged to contact Camden County Prosecutor's Office Det. Andrew McNeil at 856 225-8407 or Voorhees Police Department Det. Lance Klein at 856-882-1137. Information may also be emailed to ccpotips@ccprosecutor.org.

    Bill Gallo Jr. may be reached at bgallo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow Bill Gallo Jr. on Twitter @bgallojr. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    NJ.com's one-stop shop for all New Jersey football coverage this week/

    WEEK 3 KEY LINKS
    Week 3 mega-coverage guide
    The NJ.com Top 20
    Statewide picks and schedule

    Week 3 schedule/scoreboard
    30 must-see games
    22 bold predictions 
    • PLUS: Week 2 hot takes


    WK. 3 HOT TAKES: Streak busting, record-breaking Friday


    SATURDAY'S LIVE COVERAGE
    Delbarton at No. 7 Pope John, 1
    No. 2 St. Peter’s Prep at Seton Hall Prep, 1
    Ocean City at Cedar Creek, 1
    • No. 18 River Dell at Westwood, 2
    No. 12 Vineland at Egg Harbor, 7

    FRIDAY'S FEATURED GAMES
    No. 3 Bergen Catholic 31, No. 5 Paramus Catholic 14 
    McKenzie-led BC makes statement
    Photo gallery
     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    Piscataway 28, South Brunswick 14
    Juwon Jackson rushes for 196 yards, 3 TDs
     WATCH Jaylan Lawrence's ridiculous TD catch
    Photo gallery
     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    North Bergen 21, Bloomfield 0 
    Smash-mouth football sparks 3-0 start
    Photo gallery
     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    Elizabeth 42, Union 26 
    Big-play offense decides it
    Photo gallery
     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    No. 8 Millville 25, St. Augustine 23 
    Streak ends on 92-yard drive
    Photo gallery
     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    Mount Olive 61, High Point 27
    Flawless offense in high gear
     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    Triton 45, Cumberland 34 
    Gian Licketto runs for 242 yards, 5 TDs
    Photo gallery
    Box score

    Hunterdon Central 36, Montgomery 23 
    Jack Kovi is two-way standout
    Photo gallery
    Box score

    Dickinson 34, Kearny 21
    Elijah Payton leads way
    Photo gallery
    Box score

    Cedar Grove 28, Verona 7
    Ventola, air game lead way
    Box score

    Notre Dame 41, Hopewell Valley 21 
    Williams twins rush for 475 yards
    Box score

    No. 13 Rancocas Valley 38, Trenton 6
    RV balance too much for Tornadoes
    Box score

    Allentown 34, Northern Burlington 14
    Freshman Merkel piles up 272 yards, 4 TDs
    Box score

    Hamilton West 30, West Windsor-Plainsboro South 7
    Tom Hoglen earns 100th victory
    Box score

    New Egypt 43, Palmyra 35
    • Game story
    Box score

    Woodstown 27, Glassboro 6
    Wolverines pile up 400 yards on ground
    Box score

    Moorestown 34, Highland 28
    Special teams plays are critical
    Box score

    Phillipsburg 30, No. 16 Bridgewater-Raritan 7
    24-game winning streak snapped
    Box score

    TOP 20 SCOREBOARD
    Friday
    No. 3 Bergen Catholic 31, No. 5 Paramus Catholic 14
    No. 4 DePaul 42, No. 10 Don Bosco Prep 17
    No. 6 Timber Creek 45, Clearview 7
    No. 8 Millville 25, St. Augustine 23
    Smyrna (Del.) 30, No. 9 Irvington 18
    No. 11 Lenape 47, Burlington Township 0
    No. 13 Rancocas Valley 38, Trenton 6
    Phillipsburg 30, No. 16 Bridgewater-Raritan 7
    No. 19 Westfield 23, Franklin 7
    Saturday
    • No. 2 St. Peter's Prep at Seton Hall Prep, 1
    • No. 7 Pope John vs. Delbarton, 1
    • No. 12 Vineland at Egg Harbor, 7
    • No. 14 Manalapan vs. Old Bridge, 1
    • No. 17 Red Bank Catholic at Ocean Township, 1
    • No. 18 River Dell at Westwood, 1
    • No. 20 Howell vs. Middletown North, 6:30

    SATURDAY'S FEATURED GAMES

    No. 2 St. Peter’s Prep at Seton Hall Prep, 1
    SHP views St. Peter's as a mold for football success
    Live updates
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    No. 7 Pope John vs. Delbarton, 1
    Live updates
    • Game story
    • Box score

    No. 18 River Dell at Westwood, 2
    • Live updates
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    Ocean City at Cedar Creek, 1
    Live updates
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    No. 12 Vineland at Egg Harbor, 7
    Live updates
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    West Essex at Orange, 1
    • Recap
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    BC High (Mass.) at Hudson Catholic, 12
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Ewing at Nottingham, 12
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    Salem at Penns Grove, 12
    Explosive Penns Grove ready to take on rival Salem
    Live updates
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    Pemberton at Steinert, 12
    • Game story
    Photo gallery
    • Box score

    Pingry at Pennington, 1:30
    • Game story
    • Box score

    St. Joseph (Ottawa) at Peddie, 2
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Lawrence at Hightstown, 7
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Gateway at Paulsboro, 11
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Clayton at Gloucester Catholic, 11
    • Game story
    • Box score

    COMPLETE STATEWIDE SCHEDULE/SCOREBOARD

    Jeremy Schneider may be reached at jschneider@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @J_Schneider. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    It will be a long, slow, slog until a modified I-295/Route76/Route 42 merge will greet drivers. Meanwhile, it wins "honors" for most crashes in New Jersey.

    When it comes to one metric that pits North Jersey against lower-population South Jersey, less is more.

    South Jersey can boast the state's most crash-prone stretch of highway, as well as its most deadly county for traffic accidents. 

    We're all for South Jersey getting its fair share of New Jersey's pie, but we weren't counting on vehicular carnage to help close the traditional gap. 

    No. 1 on the statewide 2016 hit list of places where cars hit each other, or hit concrete abutments, was the familiar snarl radiating from Bellmawr to Lawnside along Interstate 295 in Camden County, where it meets Route 42 and I-76.

    A new nj.com analysis put the number of crashes last year along four miles of this I-295 stretch at more than 300, far exceeding the 223 that took place along a slightly shorter stretch of I-295 in 2015.

    None of the other top 12 intersections or road stretches were located south of Mercer or Ocean counties, but nearly an accident a day at even one South Jersey spot is a dubious distinction.

    The hits just keep on coming, as they used to say on AM radio. 

    Early this year, the state Department of Transportation reported that the most 2016 traffic fatalities took place in Burlington County, with 50 of New Jersey's total of 607. Four of the fatal accidents took place on busy Route 70; three others occurred on stretches of I-295 and the turnpike.

    So, what is it that puts our region in the danger zone more often that sections of the state with higher traffic volume and longer commutes? 

    Could it be benign neglect that allows our roads to deteriorate to a greater degree before the state deploys scarce repair-and-reconstruct resources that  flow more freely up north?

    Could it be that South Jersey traffic moves faster (this is all relative, remember), just enough to give drivers the leeway to smack into each other? Let's face it. North Jersey roads that slog along at a constant 2 mph are not conducive to dangerous driving mishaps. Roads that crawl at 15 mph, with   stop-and-go gaps, offer frustrated vehicle operators more opportunities to take chances.

    There may be more specific causes for the 295/42/76 leap in accident numbers over 2015. Surely, the spate of misdirection, detours and temporary reconfigurations that accompany current phases of the massive Direct Connection project are a challenge for motorists, even those familiar with I-295's regular path. And, during those hours when traffic is NOT hopefully congested, does anyone take the 45-mph signs in the work zones seriously? 

    We'd suggest that state police hand out more speeding tickets, but we don't know where they would hang out, with all of the blocked shoulders and the narrowed traffic lanes.

    Sadly, Direct Connection work isn't slated to be finished entirely until 2023. Even with a decade-long schedule, the wait for a more seamless transition among the three major roads will be worth it. But is there any possibility of accelerating construction? As a recent letter writer observed, the Golden Gate Bridge was built from scratch in just over four years.

    Soon, accident-reducing technologies such as rear-view cameras, lane-departure warnings and collision-avoidance braking -- maybe even driverless systems-- will be on a much larger percentage of vehicles. It all should happen by about 2023, when more-forgiving vehicles and a more rationally engineered I-295 segment will finally mesh.

    In the meantime, all we can say is: Be careful out there.

    Send a letter to the editor of South Jersey Times at sjletters@njadvancemedia.com

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.


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