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Route 1 Jughandle Closures to Begin This Summer

Determining the success of the 12-week pilot program will be difficult to quantify, New Jersey DOT official says.

The left-hand jughandle that turns off Route 1 north at Washington Road and Harrison Street in West Windsor will close for 12 weeks beginning either July 30 or Aug. 6, according to Joseph Dee, director of communications at the state's Department of Transportation.

The pilot program aims to reduce congestion along Route 1 north through Lawrenceville, West Windsor and Plainsboro, and is expected to affect the roadway from Lawrenceville through to South Brunswick.

What’s still unclear is what will determine the project’s success or failure.

Local business owners pressed Dee for an answer at a recent transportation forum that included members from Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce and Capital Region Minority Chamber of Commerce.

“I think that one of the most interesting and most difficult, frankly, questions to answer has been how will you measure success,” Dee said. “And I can say to you that’s a question that will take a little bit of quantitative and a little bit of qualitative evaluation.

"…We’ll look at the delta between what the conditions are now and what the conditions are during the trial,” he continued. “We’ll continue to meet with the business community and with the residents and we’ll evaluate. And if it’s creating consequences that we do not foresee, the Commissioner has given you his word that he will pull the plug and we will continue the way we were.”

He said it's also possible some minor changes could still allow the jughandle closures to proceed. Dee said officials will monitor local roads already at capacity, including Alexander and Faculty roads.

He said results of the trial would be presented to the public. If the trial is a success, the state plans to close jughandles permanently.

“As you know Route 1, especially in peak period, operates over capacity,” Dee said. “It fails in a number of respects from a traffic engineering point of view and from a safety point of view. There’s three travel lanes northbound on Route 1 in the areas in West Windsor at Washington Road and Harrison Street and we lose at least one of those lanes with traffic trying to make a left turn at the jughandle at Washington Road or Harrison Street, just queuing up trying to make that turn.”

When the pilot begins, drivers may no longer turn left from Route 1 north onto Harrison or Washington. Instead, drivers will be directed north to Scudder’s Mill Road and onto Route 1 south. 

Princeton Township Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert said the county will replace Stony Brook Bridge on Quaker Road between Mercer Street and Province Line Road in August, putting even more traffic on other local roads.

Dee said the state has been responsive to community concerns and has made adjustments, including delaying the pilot and restricting certain access to Varsity Avenue and Fisher Place in West Windsor during the trial so that driver don’t turn those roads into jughandles.

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