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NJDOT Jughandle Trial Set for Late July or Early August

The New Jersey Department of Transportation will begin its Route 1 jughandle experiment on either July 30 or August 6, a DOT spokesman has confirmed.

The jughandle trial will last 12 weeks, DOT Spokesman Joseph Dee said. 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.

Originally the jughandles were scheduled to be blocked off this spring, but DOT Commissioner Jim Simpson postponed the trial period in response to concerns from local business leaders, who wanted more time to plan for the changes. Business leaders and Borough councilman Kevin Wilkes met with Simpson in February to voice concerns about the timing of the trial and in a spirit of cooperation, Simpson agreed to delay the project.

The program is  designed to reduce congestion on Route 1 in the vicinity of the Washington Road and Harrison Street intersections.

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. 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 also 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. 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 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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