New circles coming soon to routes 295 and 29 in NJ
EWING — A major construction project near the Pennsylvania border that expected to wrap up next week, drastically changing how drivers navigate two major highways, will take longer to complete than originally expected.
As part of the Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project, two traffic circles — or roundabouts, as the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission calls them — are expected to open on Oct. 22. One circle, letting drivers get onto Interstate 295 South from State Route 29 North has been in "limited operation" since August, the commission said.
The "downstream" circle was scheduled to open on Monday, but has been delayed indefinitely. When it opens it will also include drivers on Interstate 295 South who are going on Route 29 after crossing the Scudder Falls Bridge from Pennsylvania, as well as drivers on 29 South wanting to get onto 295 south. The changes are part of a nearly five-year project affecting a 4-mile segment of 295 in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
The commission said the circle replaced the "spaghetti bowl" drivers used to encounter, which included "crisscrossing ramps, lanes, weaves and dangerous sightlines."
"This design is preferred by NJDOT and viewed as the best option from safety and traffic operations perspectives," the commission said in a statement. "This design will retain the bypasses for Route 29 northbound and southbound through traffic and will allow free-flow traffic through the interchange, as preferred design does not include any traffic signals or stop sign-controlled intersections."
A second circle is expected to open next year on the "upstream" side. That is expected to be completed before the first span of the new Scudder Falls Bridge opens, the commission said. There is no date yet for when the new span will open.
Because New Jersey drivers are more used to jughandles than circles and some Pennsylvania drivers may not know how to properly navigate either, the commission provided some tips on how to safely get through the roundabouts. Entry lanes to the circle will have yield signs, and all vehicles will move counter-clockwise around a center island. Drivers entering the roundabout should yield to oncoming traffic already in the circle.
The commission also provided some additional guidance to minimize the chance of crashes in the new traffic pattern:
- Slow down – While there are no stop signs at a roundabout, slower speeds are essential for ensuring safe and efficient travel movements.
- Entering – Always veer to the right when entering a roundabout and only after first yielding to any traffic that might already be in the roundabout.
- Never stop once inside a roundabout – The vehicle in a roundabout always has the right-of-way.
- Departing – Exit lanes from the roundabout are to the right; look for destination signage at these locations.
- Be courteous – Look to your right when approaching a roundabout’s exit lane, check your mirror and use the turn signal to communicate your intended movement to other motorists.
- Roundabouts are forgiving – If a motorists misses an exit point, he or she can simply continue around the roundabout again to the desired exit lane.