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.

Traffic Backup on East Railroad Avenue.      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.

Construction of the new traffic light.      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. Traffic on Half Acre Road.

     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 drivers.

Feel free to E-Mail and share your opinion and comments!
Traffic Photos Courtesy of John Czapiga