Slowly but surely, the commuter nightmare that is Route 1 in South Brunswick is being recognized by the state.
Township officials said the New Jersey Department of Transportation has approved an approximately $8.5 million project that will reconfigure the jughandle at the intersection of Route 1 and New Road on the northbound side.
"Right now we can only stack about two cars at that intersection," said Mayor Frank Gambatese. "It's crucial for our residents to have that stacking lane be able to fit about five to ten cars. It's a mess because cars are sitting at that intersection for two or three lights just to get through."
The project will move the jughandle outlet further back towards the middle of New Road in the direction of Route 522 to allow improved access for motorists.
The intersection improvement is one of several upgrades the DOT is expected to perform on Route 1 over the next year. Starting on July 2, the DOT will begin a project to repave Route 1 from College Road in Plainsboro through South Brunswick and into North Brunswick.
Once the repaving work is finished, the DOT is expected to begin working on the New Road jughandle project. Gambatese said that project could be finished by the summer of 2013, weather permitting.
"The township was able to acquire the land for the New Road project from about three or four property owners that the state will reimburse us for," he said. "That helped move things along a little faster. This is one of our more important intersections so we're thrilled about this."
The pothole-ridden Route 130 is also on the state's radar for repaving. Gambatese said the DOT has $15 million set aside for a repaving project on Route 130 beginning in South Brunswick up to Route 1, but there is no time frame yet for that project.
In addition, Gambatese said the DOT will begin drainage improvements at the intersection of Route 1 and Ridge Road next year. The $2.2 million project is expected to begin in the fall of 2013. Officials expect the work to alleviate the constant flooding issues that affect the intersection during periods of heavy rainfall.
Finally, the DOT also has in place a $100 million concept plan for the long awaited widening of Route 1. However, the plan is only in the discussion phase.
"The DOT has that money set aside for widening Route 1, but it's just a concept plan at this point," Gambatese said. "I don't expect to still be alive when work finally begins to widen Route 1."
It's estimated that in order to expand Route 1 into three lanes on both sides of the roadway through South Brunswick, it would cost anywhere from $300 to $500 million dollars. for that project to move forward.
Even still, the mayor noted that the state finally seems to be listening to the township's requests for something to be done about the Route 1 nightmare in South Brunswick.
"We're very pleased that the state is hearing all the yelling we've been doing," Gambatese said. "We've been yelling about Route 1 for a long time and we're finally starting to make some headway."
What other intersections along Route 1 would you like to see improved? Tell us in the comments.