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HEY NEW JERSEY—FINALLY COMING TO YOUR SENSES? LAWMAKERS LOOKING INTO THAT CRAZY “JERSEY LEFT” (1464 hits)

NEW YORK TIMES, February 5, 2013 -- It is the peculiar fate of the New Jersey driver, as indelible as a shoreside weekend or a Bruce Springsteen composition, if less easily romanticized.

For when the denizens of Mr. Springsteen’s “Born to Run” take their hemi-powered drones for a scream down the boulevard, one detail is perhaps omitted: If ever those renegade drivers resolved to make a left turn, they probably suffered the indignity of taking a right-hand loop first.

The loop is called a jughandle, a traffic formation that looks as it sounds: the driver has to turn right in order to turn left.

While other states have been known to use jughandles, none seems to have matched New Jersey in volume or reputation.

After more than a half-century, though, the jughandle — so intertwined with the Garden State that it is also called a “Jersey left” — faces a threat. On Monday, a proposal to ban future jughandles cleared the State Senate’s transportation committee, allowing for a full vote and prompting a zealous debate over the state’s signature driving quirk.

“I’m from New Jersey for 60 years,” said Daniel Gaskill, who operates the Princeton Driving School. “Jughandles are part of our culture.”

Officials said construction of the state’s hundreds of jughandles dated to the 1940s and grew as part of an effort to keep traffic clusters off main drags. But like the state’s many traffic circles, the jughandle has become a polarizing force.

The bill’s author, State Senator James Holzapfel of Toms River, described the minutes-long wait at a jughandle as “my personal hell.” Since 2003, when Mr. Holzapfel was an assemblyman, he has introduced a jughandle bill every two years. Monday was the first time his plan passed in a committee. “I’ve sat through three, four changes of the light before I could even get over the highway,” he said. “You sit there and say, ‘There’s got to be a better way.’ ”

Officials with the State Transportation Department are not so sure, suggesting that the alternatives — dedicated turn lanes or mixed-use lanes — leave drivers vulnerable to backups in active travel lanes, including high-speed lanes.

“We, as a department, have found that the jughandle design does serve a purpose,” said Tim Greeley, a department spokesman.

A spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie did not respond to a message seeking the governor’s position on jughandles.

Some residents have said the greatest shortcoming of the state’s turning policy is its inconsistency. Some stretches include traditional left turns and jughandles in proximity, leaving a left-leaning driver to guess which lane to enter. Mr. Holzapfel noted that roads by the state’s resort towns were particularly problematic to visitors unfamiliar with the convention.

“They go to the intersection, stop, then try to make a left across a three-lane road,” he said.

Mr. Holzapfel said that intersections once plagued with accidents and backups, including some on Routes 1 and 17, had been remedied in recent years with the use of overpasses and other designs that eliminated the need for jughandles. He estimated that jughandles had caused thousands of accidents. (If passed, the bill would affect the future construction of jughandles, not those that are already in place.)

Maria Prato, 31, who moved from Oklahoma City to North Hanover, N.J., in 2007, said it took her about two weeks to figure out how to make a left turn. “I was like: ‘What is wrong with these people? They don’t need to make left-hand turns?’ ” she recalled. “Eventually one of the locals cued us in.”

But perhaps no New Jerseyan has weighed the jughandle’s merits as thoroughly as Jason Didner, 42, a singer and songwriter. Years before he took a job with a highway construction company, he wrote a tune about his driving experience for “Car Talk” on National Public Radio.

“My experience,” he said in a phone interview on Monday, “was seeing a diner on the left-hand lane, and you can’t get there for another 10 minutes.”

And with that, Mr. Didner offered his entry, “You Can’t Get There From Here in Jersey,” and its chorus:

“You can’t get there from here in Jersey/ You’re always on the wrong side of the road/ You can’t get there from here in Jersey/ I’ve got a case of jughandle turnaround overload.”


Posted By: Richard Kigel
Tuesday, February 5th 2013 at 12:43PM
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Tuesday, February 5th 2013 at 12:44PM
Richard Kigel
“Jughandles are part of our culture.”

Now that's funny! They have those things in Michigan too, what a pain.
Tuesday, February 5th 2013 at 1:02PM
Steve Williams
Right, Steve...anyone who drives in Jersey knows what a pain they are.


Tuesday, February 5th 2013 at 2:56PM
Richard Kigel
Richard so nice to see your picture and blogs appear.... Your blogs are so enlightning and refreshing!!


Tuesday, February 5th 2013 at 5:26PM
Cynthia Merrill Artis
I say put in those beautiful round-a-bouts!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roundabout


Wednesday, February 6th 2013 at 2:26AM
Jen Fad
thank you, Cynthia!!!

I always try to stick by the mantra of Irma Robinson: EDUCATE!!! EDUCATE!!! EDUCATE!!!


Wednesday, February 6th 2013 at 10:44AM
Richard Kigel
Jen--Oh man...I am sure you have to drive along those roads all the time...Route 1 and 9 is a killer. You know you have to make a left turn and keep trying to see how you can do it...and then you see your left turn sign pointing to the right--and you go...WTF"???

It's crazy!!!


But that's Jersey for you!!
Wednesday, February 6th 2013 at 10:46AM
Richard Kigel
Oh you folk in NY just need to stay out of Jersey is all! We Jersians understand our roads
Saturday, February 9th 2013 at 9:58AM
Jen Fad
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