WESTFIELD, NJ — The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) announced today the beginning of a “congestion relief project” along Route 22 in Somerset and Union Counties that will use technology to improve traffic flow by connecting 18 traffic signals into one integrated system.
The project will begin in Bridgewater and continue through Bound Brook, Green Brook, North Plainfield, Watchung, Scotch Plains, Westfield and Mountainside.
The $7.77 million project includes the complete replacement of traffic signal systems at five intersections and geometric improvements and signal modifications to seven other intersections. In addition, eight new traffic cameras will be installed for the Camera Surveillance System, two new permanent electronic dynamic message signs will be added and fiber optic and wireless communication will be installed to connect the new integrated system to the Statewide Traffic Management Center in Woodbridge.
The entire project is scheduled for completion in summer of 2014.
This week, NJDOT’s contractor, Daidone Electric, Inc., began preliminary construction activity, including sign installation, field mobilization and directional drilling to install underground conduits. They will conduct the project with multiple crews working simultaneously at different locations.
All available travel lanes will be maintained on Route 22 during peak travel periods, although certain jughandle ramps will temporarily close as needed. Detours will typically be limited to off-peak hours and all travel lanes will be reopened during morning and evening rush hours, according to the NJDOT.
The precise timing of the work is subject to change due to weather and other factors. Check www.511nj.org for real-time travel information.
Julie Steinberg of Westfield often drives on Route 22.
“This will create some short-term pain and medium-term relief,” said Steinberg when she heard of the project. “I would have liked to have seen the implementation of 'all turns' or some alternative to the current structure of 22, which is dangerous and encourages excessive jockeying among drivers.
“Overall, this is a Band-Aid and the larger problem is still not being addressed—that being the lack of local public transportation in Union County. I would be happier if we were discussing things like a light rail, such as those found in Hudson, Essex, and Bergen counties, or other broader solutions to address our problems.”
Sarah Lindell of Scotch Plains was optimistic but wary.
“It makes sense. You'll be able to get further in traffic without having to stop and go,” said Lindell. “The camera, on the other hand, I am not so sure. The dynamic message and wireless communication can be useful and cool, but I can't help but notice the 7.77 million dollar price tag.”
Additional reporting by Jackie Lieberman.