SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – It’s been a long time in coming, but the morning and evening rush hours may get better on Route 1 thanks to a state Department of Transportation pilot program using some of the road’s shoulders starting next Monday.
Police announced Monday that the Hard Shoulder Running project, a .25-mile section of Route 1 between Independence Way and Raymond Road, should begin on time next week, allowing traffic to use the shoulders during the morning and evening rush hours.
Workers have been striping that section of the busy road and installing signs to let motorists know that the shoulders would be open as a travel lane from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday starting June 26.
Vehicles may not use the shoulder at other times, police said.
Trucks, however, are prohibited from using the shoulders, according to police.
State officials presented the plan to the public during a forum at the municipal building last month.
The pilot program will go on for six months and then be evaluated to see if it should remain permanently, officials said.
For years, the township has been asking the state for help regarding the heavy traffic flowing through the about 7-mile stretch of Route 1 from Plainsboro to North Brunswick.
Unlike the three lanes in those communities, the road “bottlenecks” to just two lanes in each direction in South Brunswick, causing backups, especially during commuting times.
During the presentation last month, officials said making the road three lanes in both directions through the township is currently cost prohibitive and that a lot of land would have to be taken through eminent domain to establish the 12-foot wide travel lane.
Full DOT Presentation Video:
As a compromise, the plan was developed to use part of the existing hard shoulder at a point where there are fewer business and residential “cuts” out to the roadway.
Once the state agreed to try the pilot program, Gov. Chris Christie halted transportation projects throughout the state due to the insolvency of the Transportation Trust Fund.
That issue was resolved, however, when the legislature and the governor approved a $.26-cent gas tax hike to fund transportation.
During a stop in the township, Gov. Christie said the project would continue as would millions in other transportation projects in the state and Middlesex County.
Some of that work includes re-paving sections of Route 130 in Cranbury and South Brunswick, Christie said during a press conference at Dayton Toyota earlier this month.
Christie said the fund is now in good enough shape, that the next governor should not have to worry about the its financial stability.
State officials said township police would be monitoring the project and cameras would be installed on utility poles along the route to see if there are any problems or an increase in accidents due to using the lanes.
Once all the data is evaluated, the state will determine if the project should be extended past the six months and then if it should become permanent, officials said.
Local officials are hoping the project can ease congestion and keep traffic flowing.