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The jughandle is one of New Jersey’s most-endearing idiosyncrasies. The concept that we must turn right to go left is an article of faith for Garden State drivers. But will these serpentine spillways survive?
The “Jersey Left” is under attack in the state Senate, where bill #207 seeks to prohibit “planning, designing or construction of any additional jughandles on the public roads or highways.” A similar bill has been proposed every two years since 2003, but this is the first time it has cleared committee and will move to the floor for a full vote.
The bill’s sponsor, state Senator James W. Holzapfel (R-Ocean County), argues that jughandles actually cause accidents. And in some cases, that might be true. But does that mean we should eliminate them from all future consideration? What may be a problem for roads in populous counties like Hudson and Essex, might work just fine in rural counties like Salem and Sussex. No two highways, or counties, are completely alike.
Holzapfel, a member of the senate transportation committee, cites interchanges at routes 4 and 17, and routes 1 and 30 as modern design modifications that have alleviated congestion and accidents. But these are unique examples where flyover lanes have been added at significant expense—and don’t necessarily serve as viable models for all future projects under every conceivable circumstance.
Legislative overreach is not rare in this state, and it seems to be rearing its ugly head here. While no one would argue against making our roads as safe as possible, it seems a bit hasty to toss Jersey’s jughandles onto the scrap heap of history.
The bill does leave open the possibility for “further discussion on the issue of road safety.” Now there’s a left turn we can live with.