“I have talked about this thing to death,” NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson told officials at the Central Jersey Transportation Forum this morning. “Everyone in Princeton seems to have an opinion about it…We’ve studied this to death, and we are putting the pilot in place.”
Simpson said if the experiment blocking off the Route 1 jughandles at Washington Road and Harrison Street proves to be a bad move, it will end after 30 days.
“We will pull the plug if it is a disaster,” he said. “I’m on it, don’t worry about it.”
The trial is expected to begin around Aug. 4. The jughandle trial will last 12 weeks.
Traffic heading northbound on Route 1 will not be able to use the jughandles at Washington Road and Harrison Street to make u-turns or cross Route 1 into Princeton. Drivers will need to either turn off at Alexander Road or take the Scudders Mill Road exit and double back to Princeton under the DOT’s plan.
Motorists will also be prohibited from making right turns on to Varsity Avenue so that the street is not used as a shortcut, West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh said. Fisher Place will allow for a u-turn but no left turn for the same reason, he said.
Originally the jughandles were scheduled to be blocked off this spring, but Simpson postponed the trial period in response to concerns from local business leaders, who wanted more time to plan for the changes. Deferring the pilot program was also done to provide time for motorists to settle into the new traffic patterns that accompanied the May 22 opening of the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. The new hospital is located along Route 1 just north of the Harrison Street intersection.
The program is designed to reduce congestion on Route 1 in the vicinity of the Washington Road and Harrison Street intersections.
- Temporary barriers will be used to implement the program. The NJDOT is collecting traffic volume and trip-time data at numerous locations in Princeton Township, Princeton Borough, West Windsor and Plainsboro prior to and during the trial period to evaluate impacts. Princeton University is also collecting its own traffic data.
- If the left-turn restrictions do not reduce congestion on Route 1 or create unacceptable impacts on local roads, NJDOT will terminate the trial and restore all traffic movements. If the pilot program proves to be a success, the restrictions will be made permanent.
- To assist motorists as they acclimate to the new travel patterns, NJDOT will deploy signs notifying motorists of the restrictions and alternate routes well in advance of the start of the pilot project.
Washington Road changes:
- Route 1 northbound and southbound motorists will be prevented from making left turns and U-turns at the Washington Road intersection.
- Route 1 northbound motorists seeking to make a left onto Washington Road heading into Princeton will be directed north to the Scudders Mill interchange where they can make a U-turn onto Route 1 south, from which right turns onto Washington Road will remain available.
-Route 1 northbound motorists seeking to make a U-turn at Washington Road will instead be directed to make the U-turn at the Alexander Road interchange.
-Route 1 southbound motorists seeking to turn left onto Washington Road or make a U-turn can use Alexander Road interchange to Route 1 northbound, from which right turns onto Washington Road will remain available.
Harrison Street changes:
- Route 1 northbound motorists will be prevented from making left or U-turns at the Harrison Street intersection.
- Motorists will be directed to proceed north to the Scudders Mill Road interchange and make a U-turn to Route 1 southbound, from which right turns onto Harrison Street will remain available.