By the end of this week, the New Jersey Department of Transportation plans to begin a trial program meant to ease congestion on Route 1 by restricting left turns and U-turns on Route 1 at Washington Road and Harrison Street.
The NJDOT has announced that the program will be implemented this Friday, August 3. All traffic restrictions are expected to be in place by Saturday, August 4. Electronic signs warning motorists of the changes began to appear on Route 1 and other roads about two weeks ago. Temporary construction barrels will be used to implement the restrictions over the course of a planned 12-week trial period, NJDOT representatives said.
State transportation officials say the jughandle closures are necessary to reduce congestion along the Route 1 northbound corridor in the vicinity of Washington Road and Harrison Street, where they say the right lane often becomes crowded with motorists queuing to make left turns, particularly during rush hour.
The NJDOT has collected traffic volume and trip-time data at numerous locations in Princeton Township, Princeton Borough, West Windsor and Plainsboro prior to the trial, officials said, and will continue to do so during the trial to evaluate the impacts of the restrictions.
After the conclusion of the trial, NJDOT representatives will meet with residents and business owners to present its findings as to whether the restrictions have proven to be effective in reducing Route 1 congestion and to discuss the extent of any secondary impacts on local streets and roads.
If the trial is deemed a success, the turns will not be restored and the Department will replace the temporary barriers with permanent more aesthetically pleasing barriers as expeditiously as possible, officials said.
If the trial is unsuccessful, the temporary restrictions will be removed to restore all existing traffic movements.
Numerous existing traffic movements at the Washington Road and Harrison Street intersections with Route 1 will remain available to motorists, NJDOT representatives said:
– Motorists heading east from Princeton on Washington Road (CR 571) will continue to be able to make all current movements at the Route 1 intersection. They may turn right onto Route 1 south, proceed straight through the intersection to continue on Washington Road, or turn left onto Route 1 north.
– Motorists heading west from West Windsor on Washington Road also will continue to have all three movements (left, straight or right) available at the Route 1 intersection.
– Motorists heading east from Princeton on Harrison Street also will have all three existing movements (right onto Route 1 south, straight into the Sarnoff facility or left onto Route 1 north) available.
– Motorists departing the Sarnoff facility onto Route 1 at Harrison Street will be restricted to right turns only onto Route 1 northbound.
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 toward Princeton will be directed to continue north on Route 1 and make a U-turn at the Scudders Mill interchange, proceed south on Route 1 and make a right turn onto Washington Road. The U-turn movement at the Scudders Mill interchange is the second exit off of Route 1 northbound.
– Route 1 northbound motorists seeking to make a U-turn can make that move at the Alexander Road or the Scudders Mill Road interchanges.
– Route 1 southbound motorists seeking to turn left onto Washington Road will be directed to proceed approximately 0.1 miles past Washington Road, take the ramp to Alexander Road eastbound and then proceed to Route 1 northbound from which they may turn right onto Washington road toward West Windsor.
– Route 1 southbound motorists seeking to make a U-turn may make that move at Fischer Place or Alexander Road.
– 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 on Route 1 to the Scudders Mill Road interchange and take the U-turn ramp, which is the second ramp at the interchange as motorists head north on Route 1, to Route 1 southbound. They may turn right at at Harrison Street or continue south on Route 1.
In connection with the trial, turn restrictions will be implemented at Varsity Avenue and Fisher Place.
The traffic signal at Harrison Street will be optimized with a goal to improve traffic flow for Route 1 motorists, officials said.
The pilot-program had initially been planned to begin in March of this year, but NJDOT deferred the start to accommodate the spring opening of the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro on Route 1 just north of Harrison Street.