NJDOT to make the program utilizing the shoulder as a travel lane permanent
(Trenton) – The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) today announced the Route 1 congestion relief project utilizing the shoulder as a travel lane during peak travel times in South Brunswick has cut commuting times by 50 percent and relieved congestion through the area.
As a result of the pilot project’s success, the Department is in the process of making this program a permanent improvement to Route 1.
“NJDOT prides itself on this type of out of the box thinking,” NJDOT Acting Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said. “Traffic and congestion are a serious problem in New Jersey, especially along the busy Route 1 corridor.Working together, the Department and local officials developed an innovative and cost effective solution thatimproves safety and travel times on Route 1 that all motorists can appreciate.”
The pilot project, which began in June 2017, allows cars to use the shoulder as a travel lane Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Route 1 northbound and southbound from Raymond Road to Promenade Boulevard in South Brunswick.
Route 1 is three lanes before and after this section of the highway, causing a bottleneck and delays where the three lanes merge to two lanes. The goal of the pilot project utilizing the shoulder as a travel lane during peak periods was to keep traffic flowing, reduce congestion, and improve safety.
“It’s amazing how like-minded groups, in this case NJDOT and South Brunswick Township, can work in a cooperative and collaborative effort to solve a long standing egregious issue that many had claimed to be unsolvable,” South Brunswick Councilman South Brunswick Councilman Joseph J. Camarota, Jr. said.
Data shows multiples benefits
The Department evaluated data over a six-month period and found using the shoulder as a travel lane resulted in three major improvements – travel times were reduced, more traffic was able to move through the area, and safety improved as traffic was spread out over three lanes instead of two.
Average speed during peak commuting times through the project limits improved from 13 mph in 2015 to 31 mph during the six-month evaluation period in 2017. That translates to cutting motorists commuting time in half through this stretch of roadway, saving motorists an average of four minutes each morning and evening.
In 2015, before the pilot program was initiated, that same section of Route 1 carried an average of 5,600 cars southbound from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on two lanes of traffic. In 2017, during the pilot program, it carried more than 6,000 cars on average across three lanes of traffic.
Spreading the traffic out over three lanes provides more space for cars, which not only improves safety, but also reduces stress. By saving drivers time and reducing stress, NJDOT is helping to improve the quality of life of those who utilize state highways.
The project has been well received by the community and motorists. The Department is considering extending the limits of the program when it is made permanent.