Politics

Legislature Juggling Jug Handles

jughandlesThere is a bill in the New Jer­sey State Senate, Senate bill 207 that will “…prohibit the plan­ning, designing, or construction of any additional jug handles on the public roads or highways in the State.” The bill has been pro­posed by State Senator James Holzapfel of District 10.

State Senator James Holzapfel said the three main reasons for proposing this bill is for safety, pollution and cutting down trav­el time. He also believes that jug handles have outlived their pur­pose.

“Jug handles were a wonder­ful thing 30 to 40 years ago but roads were also less crowded then,” said Holzapfel.

According to Bloomberg. com, “New Jersey has at least 600 jug handles, more than any other U.S. state, according to Tim Greeley, a spokesman for the state Transportation Department. The article also said, “The turns were engineered to remove left-turn­ing vehicles from higher-speed lanes and control the congestion approaching a traffic light. They send drivers on a right-hand exit, then onto a U-shaped stretch that ends at the intersection with the original road. Cars go straight across the road and continue on their way - a three-step left turn.”

Jonathan Weisman, sophomore marketing major, said, “I come from Pennsylvania where there really aren’t too many jug-han­dles. While they’re convenient so you don’t have to sit in the turn lane waiting for a green arrow to turn left, they can be confusing and sort of a pain to deal with. Like the one on Route 36 near the mall.”

University police captain Dean Volpe said that despite not having jug handles within jurisdiction, “I am not aware any ‘dangers as­sociated with jug handles in New Jersey.’ It may be inconvenient but, it is in my opinion, safer than making a left hand turn on a busy roadway or highway.”

Harmony Bailey, sophomore his­tory major, said that despite living in the tri-state area her entire life, she herself or her parents had not en­countered jug handles until attending the University.

“We thought it was quite odd that we could not make left turns and for people who aren’t from NJ, this is very frustrating. Although it does alleviate traffic concerns at times, it causes people to go out of their way to get where they want to go,” said Bailey.

Holzapfel submitted the bill in 2003 when he was a member of the New Jersey Assembly and has since resubmitted it every two years. This year was the first time it made it out of committee and is being consid­ered for a full vote.

Patrick Layton, sophomore com­munication major, said, “Personally, I prefer not having jughandles. Down in my area, they tend to clog the right lane, causing people to stop short.”

Holzapfel believes that this is a common sense decision. “If they (jug handles) are such a wonderful idea, why aren’t other states build­ing them?,” said Holzapfel. He con­tinued, “In some states you can even make a U turn in left turn lanes.”

Layton also believes left turn lanes are the correct solutions. “I feel it is better to have left turn lanes with their own lights so that way more people can get through,” said Layton.

Sophomore English major Andrea Buck said, “I’m from Connecticut, and I’ve never seen a jug handle be­fore I came here. They seem pretty useless and confusing to me, so if there is an easier way to make a left turn, I would gladly be in support of that.”

Holzapfel believes that safety is the biggest issue with jug handles but jug handles also hurt businesses. By having to make property into jug handles it prevents the development of more businesses. This was one of the main inspirations behind the bill when he introduced it back in 2003. “This is not the way to go as far as the future is concerned,” said Holza­pfel.

Professor Peter Reinhart, Direc­tor Kislak Real Estate Institute, said “They have some impact on real estate shopping centers, small and larger, by impacting access to the centers. Signage for stores is impact­ed by requiring specific directions at times.”

Holzapfel also believes that it is pointless to make a vehicle go right to go left. “Why should the same car go through the same intersection twice,” said Holzapfel.

Reinhart agrees with Holzapfel. “I do think jug handles designed many years ago are often inefficient since they were designed with lower traf­fic volumes than today. The result is sometimes lengthy backups for cars entering the jug handles,” said Rein­hart.

However, Holzapfel does ac­knowledge there are conflicting re­ports of whether jug handles are dan­gerous or not. The alternative that he suggests is adding in left turn lanes which would allow both lanes of traf­fic to go left and prevent accidents. “If there is a five lane highway, then the two on the left would be used for turning purposes.”

Courtney Locke, sophomore software engineering student, is from Paramus, New Jersey but had not seen a jug handle until attend­ing the University. “I don’t have a problem with them at all because I feel they are necessary if you do not have overpasses. Left hand turn lanes seem to cause traffic volume too frequently, where the jug han­dles help alleviate that volume.”

However, Locke does say, “I admit they are a little difficult to maneuver at times, but I think they are more effective than a left turn lane.”

Reinhart believes that traffic is­sues will arise regardless. “As for traffic safety, if there are too many cars seeking to make the left turn, either through a jug handle or a left turn lane, safety issues can arise in either case,” said Reinhart.

IMAGE TAKEN from lettersfromnj.wordpress.com