The police have a message for the motorists making illegal U-turns on residential side roads and driveways in an effort to get around the closure of jughandles on Route 1. Officers are watching and writing three-point tickets to everyone they catch.
After about a month, state officials seem encouraged by the results of a 12-week pilot program that closed jughandles on Route 1 in an effort to improve traffic flow on the highway.
But there’s also at least one major a problem that needs to be ironed out. Numerous motorists are using side streets and residents’ driveways in the Penns Neck section of the township to turn around.
DOT officials met with West Windsor Council and about 50 residents at a meeting on September 4. Residents told Anthony Attanasio, DOT assistant commissioner for government and community relations, and Joseph Dee, DOT director of communications, that they are concerned about diminished safety and quality of life in their neighborhood as a result of the closures.
Washington Road resident Sanja Dimic said her children used to be able to walk, ride their bikes, and skateboard along the road without her having to worry. “Now they can’t. While driving my daughter to the pediatrician at 9 a.m., I saw one accident and four K or U-turns.”
“Last week at 6:20 a.m., I heard car horns beeping in response to motorists making K-turns,” said Washington Road resident Curtis Hoberman. “The traffic study is affecting the quality of life in Penns Neck and now I have had to develop more street smarts when I’m driving, because at any point the car in front of me could do a K-turn or U-turn.”
Dimic’s and Hoberman’s concerns were echoed by many of the residents who crowded town hall.
Attanasio said officials are sympathetic with the complaints and that corrective measures are being taken to address them. But he also pointed out that the state is committed to seeing the project through the full 12 weeks. He said that during its first month, the DOT has observed an improvement of north and south traffic on Route 1.
“The importance of the pilot project cannot be lost,” he said. “The reality is that something had to be done. The redevelopment of West Windsor is tied to the healthy flow of traffic on Route 1. West Windsor can’t grow and we can’t grow businesses and economic development in the state without a well-functioning Route 1.”
“By no means are we declaring victory, but we are encouraged by the flow on Route 1 — but the next two weeks will be very important,” Attanasio said.
“We knew there would be issues. When motorists are driving and they are used to a certain pattern, they become programmed. There is a learning curve,” he said, adding that authorities are working to alleviate the problem.
Attanasio said adjustments have been made on a daily basis by the DOT based on information received from township officials and the DOT’s “folks monitoring the stretch.” Attanasio added that technology including Bluetooth, cameras, and methods to measure travel times, also provide the DOT with data.