I’ve made no secret of my disdain for the NJDOT. After all, these are the people who consider the massive clusterf*ck at Route 1 and Quaker Bridge Road/Nassau Park Blvd. to be a “highly successful project” that “significantly improved traffic flow and reduced congestion on Route 1”. (No, seriously. Read it yourself and laugh with me.) So my ears perked up when, last week, I saw a promo for an Eyewitness News report on the quirks of driving in NJ – in particular, the notion of a ‘jughandle’.
I suppose I should take a moment and explain, for the benefit of my non-Jersey readers, exactly how a ‘jughandle’ works. The whole concept behind the jughandle is this: say you’re on a busy road, and you’re approaching a traffic light, where you need to make a left turn. Rather than making the turn directly off the busy road, you’d pull off the road to the right, similar to exiting off an interstate, THEN make the left turn onto the intersecting street and wait at the traffic light. That’s the concept, anyway.
Sounds simple, right? Well, it is and it isn’t, because every intersection is slightly different. Some jughandles don’t involve traffic lights. Some jughandles come AFTER the light, rather than before. And in some places, jughandles aren’t used, and you CAN make a ‘direct’ left. Having lived in NJ almost my whole life, dealing with (most) jughandles comes second nature to me, but I can see how someone from out-of-state could get confused.
Anyway, back to the news report. I had been hoping that the report would take the DOT to task on the things that really irk Jersey drivers, like how newer jughandles and intersections (like the Meadow Road and QB Road intersections) are massively overdesigned. And while it doesn’t go as far as I might like, it does mention how some intersections (not jughandles, necessarily, but still confusing) are designed poorly and how even experienced local drivers could have a hard time navigating. But then it veers toward the comical, mocking those of us who are accustomed to Jersey’s quirks (the reporter specifically accuses one NJ resident of being “brainwashed”), and thereby minimizing the central argument, making it pretty transparent that the reporter simply went through the Lincoln Tunnel, found the first odd intersections he could find, and shot some quick video.
Had the reporter done some real investigating, he’d have found some of the DOT disasters here in ‘central’ NJ that we live with every day. But I guess since Michael Jackson wasn’t involved…