While acknowledging that there have been some unhappy voices responding to the restriction of left turns on U.S. Route 1 at Washington Road and Harrison Street, the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) believes that their pilot program is going reasonably well.
“There’s been a number of comments from people, but I have to say, in general, that the trial got off to a fairly smooth start,” said spokesman Joe Dee. “There have been some concerns raised by residents, and we’re seeking to address them” (see Mailbox on page 9).
Representatives of the Princeton Medical Center at Plainsboro and the emergency medical technicians (EMTS) who drive ambulances there were among the complainants, Mr. Dee reported. While ambulances have the ability to change a red light to a green one in order to get across Route 1, the process is not instantaneous. When Harrison Street is heavily trafficked, EMTS drivers may shift into what is an oncoming lane of traffic for southbound motorists turning right off Route 1 who cannot see them. Mr. Dee said that the DOT hoped to address the situation by “cutting some vegetation” to improve the sightline for motorists, and installing a new sign that will alert southbound traffic that an ambulance driver has activated control of the signal, and right turns on a red light are prohibited.
Another “one of the larger issues” that has become apparent is motorists’ practice of making U-turns and K-turns in nearby residential driveways and streets as a way of coping with the changes. Mr. Dee said that the DOT is “looking into a way to enforce no K-turns and no U-turns “to help provide some relief to those residents.” The DOT is also aware of nearby gas station owners’ concerns, he said.
Both Mr. Dee and Township Engineer Robert Kiser agreed that a real test of the changes will come as students return to school and vacationers come home during the coming weeks. “The last two weeks of August have the lightest traffic,” said Mr. Kiser. “We’re interested to see how the test works in September.”
Mr. Kiser and Mr. Dee also agreed that the recent closing of Quaker Road for repairs is not significant in assessing the Route 1 pilot, and that, on the whole, traffic has been light. “We’ve seen good traffic flow on Route 1 and we’ve seen good traffic flow coming south off the Scudders Mill interchange,” commented Mr. Dee. “The only thing that I’ve been hearing is that the traffic is light,” concurred Mr. Kiser.
“It’s still a learning curve,” observed Mr. Dee. “We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed.”