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NJDOT Commissioner Decides to Postpone Jughandle Trial in Response to Concerns from Business Leaders, Residents

The New Jersey Department of Transportation has announced that it is deferring the pilot program that would cut off the jughandles at two Route 1 intersections and prohibit left turns in to Princeton.

The program, which has been designed to reduce congestion on Route 1 in the vicinity of the Washington Road and Harrison Street intersections, will start on August 1  instead of mid-March, officials said.

The decision to defer the start of the pilot program followed two well-attended public meetings in West Windsor and Princeton Borough, as well as a recent meeting with members of the Princeton business community and other stakeholders organized by Borough Councilman Kevin Wilkes.

“After meeting with Princeton business leaders, including David Newton, vice president of Palmer Square Management and Jack Morrison, president of  the JM Group, where they discussed concerns about the potential impact of the pilot during a traditionally robust period for business, I believe that it is in the best interest of the community to move the pilot program to start August 1,” NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson said.  “The concerns and suggestions of residents who raised logistical and other issues at two recent public meetings also contributed significantly to this decision.”

Almost a dozen business owners and officials met with Simpson Monday to express concerns that the trial would hurt their businesses and that they would not have enough time to plan for a March start.

“I’m very pleased that the commissioners and his staff listened to our merchants and commercial interests in Princeton, and I thank them for postponing the trial to allow the hospital to complete their move and the merchants to sufficiently plan for the august 1 trial,”Wilkes said of the announcement. “It’s a good sign for Princeton and the State that we are cooperating together.”

Deferring the pilot program provides time for the NJDOT to address issues raised at the meetings and also allows motorists to settle into new traffic patterns that will accompany the May 22 opening of the new  University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, officials said.

The new hospital is located along Route 1 just north of the Harrison Street intersection.  The existing hospital on Witherspoon Street in Princeton will close when the new one opens.  Many trips are generated daily by the hospital’s 1,200 employees, as well as patients and visitors.

Hospital officials were consulted before the decision was reached to defer the pilot program, which DOT officials said is expected to benefit emergency vehicles as they travel to the hospital.  Peak-period congestion tends to decrease somewhat in summer months because it is a popular time to take vacations.

Pilot details:

– The pilot program is planned to run for 12 weeks.  Temporary barriers will be used to implement the program.  NJDOT will collect 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.

– 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 Dynamic Message Signs and static signage notifying motorists of the restrictions and alternate routes well in advance of the start of the pilot project.

Washington Road

– Route 1 northbound and southbound motorists will be prevented from making left turns and U-turns at the Washington Road signalized 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

– Route 1 northbound motorists will be prevented from making left or U-turns at the Harrison Street signalized 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.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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