Are We Moving in the Right Direction? A Traffic Analysis
New Jersey is notorious for being a traffic clogged state.
Governor McGreevey has responded by putting up signs that say "Keep New Jersey Moving"
on most major highways. Road construction projects have sprung up all around the state of
New Jersey from end to end. Yet, it is never enough. No matter how wider or longer we
make our roads, they remain clogged. As central New Jersey becomes more densely populated,
it would only make sense to upgrade the infrastructure to handle the increased traffic volume.
However, that is not the case - population growth is overpowering the amount of road
construction. To further push it back, funding is hard to come by. Even if funding does exist,
there is always surveying, property purchases, and planning that holds back most projects by
at least one year, if not more.
Jamesburg has had its fair share of traffic and road construction
projects over the past ten years. Jamesburg was transformed in the early 1990s when the first
traffic light was erected at the corner of Half Acre Road and Forsgate Drive. This was the
first big step towards controlled traffic, making it safer and providing fore more efficient
travel through the intersection.
Only a couple years later, the idea of a second light was discussed.
This time, the project would be bigger and include the replacement of the Buckelew Avenue bridge
over the Manalapan Brook and spillway. The old bridge had two lanes and was literally crumbling
into pieces. Replacement was deemed necessary. The bridge could not handle the anticipated
volume and weight of cars. The new bridge would be able to handle four lanes of traffic, thus
enabling turn lanes. A new traffic light would also be placed slightly southwest of the bridge,
handling traffic from East Railroad - Buckelew Avenues, West Railroad Avenue, Forsgate Drive,
and the nearby Thompson Park entrance. This project went ahead and seemed great at the time.
Yet, a problem still exists - the traffic is constantly backing up on all of the roads. The
timing of that light is still not appropriate for the volume on the East Railroad - Buckelew
Avenue direction. Traffic backs up from the light past Lisco's Country Cafe most evenings
between the times of 5:00 and 6:30. Most people are used to it; it is the price one pays
for taking the backroads.
Last year, Jamesburg took another smart step towards improving
the traffic situation. This time, the intersection of Forsgate Drive, Perrineville Road, Gatzmer
Avenue, and Willow Street was the main focus. Traffic backups and accidents were increasing
dramatically at this "five corners" intersection. Since a traffic light could be a year or
two away, a temporary solution to regulate traffic flow and improve safety was implemented.
The plan included changing the direction of Willow Street (a one way street) to flow away
from the intersection and making the intersection a "four way" stop. Almost immediately, the
amount of accidents decreased and the intersection was deemed safer for the time being.
Currently (November 2003), preliminary construction has begun after years of waiting. The
easements for properties have been granted, the plans finalized, and the payments determined.
Hopefully this traffic light will be a step in the right direction, reducing traffic tie ups.
To maximize the effectiveness of the light, it would be most proper to design a pattern between
all three of the traffic lights on Forsgate Drive to ensure that traffic moves smoothly with
the least amount of unnecessary disruptions. Once the project is completed, it is hoped that
sidewalks will be erected around the CVS property to ensure the safety of school children walking
to and from school.
Another major area of traffic tieups in the Borough is the
intersection of Half Acre Road and
Gatzmer, East Railroad, West Railroad, and Lincoln Avenues. Then, add in the two entrances to
Cumberland Farms and Jamesburg Gas, plus the railroad tracks that run directly through the
intersection, one may think that this intersection is complete anarchy! However, it is
not as bad as it sounds, but during rush hour, it can become difficult to travel (and determine
who goes next!). Thankfully, the Borough and Middlesex County have announced plans for
a much needed traffic light at this intersection. Yet, it is years away. The other light
will need to be finished first. However, it could be one of the most important safety upgrades
that the town will receive.
Thanks to the cooperation between the county and Jamesburg,
the town is upgrading its infrastructure in order to be able to compete with the increasing
traffic volume travelling through our streets. Other plans include lowering speeds on county
roads to deter speeding and improve safety in a primarily walking town. Hopefully one day
Jamesburg will not encounter heavy rush hour traffic jams and unnecessary accidents. By
controlling traffic efficiently, flow can improve, leading to faster travel time and happy
Feel free to E-Mail jamesburg.net and share your opinion and comments!
Traffic Photos Courtesy of John Czapiga