Category Archives: New Jersey

Praise for Mike Pettigano and Bergen Record/NorthJersey.com on breaking the Christie GWB scandal

NorthJersey-com-Christie-scandal-mike-pettigano
The allegations that officials in Gov. Chris Christie’s administration ordered the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to close some lanes of the George Washington Bridge (I-95, US 1 & 9) is disappointing on several fronts. What isn’t disappointing is that my friend and former colleague from my Gannett days (and fellow Penn State College of Communications graduate), Mike Pettigano, has been part of the Bergen Record/NorthJersey.com team breaking the story. Some of you may even remember Mike from when he was running Penn State sports blog Black Shoe Diaries or the preview magazine, We Are Penn State 2013 (He’s doing that again this year).

As for Christie, I’m disappointed the people he selected appeared to have acted in such a vindictive way. I’ll be curious to see what the Record learns about his involvement. I have great affection for the Garden State, having been born there and then visiting family, friends and of course, the Jersey Shore, regularly and I was pulling for Christie to rise in his party. Now, I’m probably not feeling that way.

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Places I went in 2013

Standard rules apply — I spent the night, ate a meal at a local establishment or went on an adventure in that location:

Alexandria, Va.
Arlington, Va.
Ashburn, Va.
Burke, Va.
Centreville, Va.
Chantilly, Va.
Clifton, Va.
Fairfax, Va.
Falls Church, Va.
Great Falls, Va.
Mount Vernon, Va.
Mclean, Va.
Purcellville, Va.
Shenandoah National Park, Va.
Sterling, Va.
Vienna, Va.
Nassau, Bahamas
Freeport, Bahamas
Washington, D.C.
Newark, Del.
Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Port Canaveral, Fla.
Baltimore, Md.
Colesville, Md.
Comus, Md.
Perryville, Md.
Poolesville, Md.
Avalon, N.J.
Stone Harbor, N.J.
Dillsburg, Pa.
Harrisburg, Pa.
Hershey, Pa.
Mercersburg, Pa.
Oakdale, Pa.
Pittsburgh, Pa.
Reedsville, Pa.
Robinson, Pa.
Davis, W.Va.

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This Sunday – 4 NFL games and a winter storm for a 235 mile stretch of I-95

This Sunday, at 1 p.m. in an approximately 235 miles span of Interstate 95, there are four NFL games taking place, each located within 2 miles of the East Coast’s main highway:

Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Redskins, Fex Field, Landover, Md.
Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.
Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.
Oakland Raiders at New York Jets, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.


View Larger Map

There is also a winter storm warning, in particular the D.C. region. From Capital Weather Gang – Winter storm watch issued for much of D.C. area Sunday into Monday:

The onset of precipitation across the area is most likely between mid-morning and noon with the precipitation probably starting as snow but changing to sleet and or freezing rain by late afternoon (in most spots)…

…Snow is likely for the commute to FedEx field (and for the Ravens game in Baltimore) with the snow changing to sleet and freezing rain during the game. Sleet or freezing rain is likely for the drive home.

The storm will also hit Philadelphia and the New York area, though seemingly not as hard around game time. Accuweather says:

While a large amount of snow is not expected, the city could receive its first inch or two of snow of the season, joining some of the northern and western suburbs from Friday night’s storm.

Warmer air is forecast to move in during the storm Sunday evening through Monday, causing a changeover to a wintry mix, then rain from the coast to inland areas.

In short, travel on the I-95 corridor could be pretty tough on Sunday, though most major Northeast Corridor traffic bypasses Philadelphia via the New Jersey Turnpike. On the other hand, MetLife Stadium is directly adjacent to the Turnpike. FedEx Field can be bypassed by using the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (unless you are a truck) and the opposite side of the Capital Beltway. M&T Bank Stadium is right near the terminus of the B/W Parkway, but the Harbor Tunnel Thruway provides a bypass too.

There is also a New England Patriots vs. Cleveland Browns game in Foxborough, but the forecast there is sunny and 34°.

I don’t know how much these games impact I-95 in general (an interesting question), but whatever that is could be magnified this Sunday.

Yes, I’m aware I-95 isn’t technically continuous between Pennsylvania and New Jersey

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Mashable and Daily Motion look back at New Jersey’s Action Park

Inside the World’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park | The Demise of the World’s Most Dangerous Amusement ParkMashable
This two-part feature on Action Park of Vernon, N.J. is getting passed around on social media by all the Jersey natives I know. Since I left the Garden State for Northern Virginia right before I turned two, I didn’t get to really experience “trAction Park” though I remember the television commercials (“there’s no place in the world like Action Park!” from when I was visiting relatives and there was discussion of visiting it during my first few weeks of college. I did go to the successor park, Mountain Creek in 2003.

In short, Action Park’s history lends itself well to a black comedy or a horror movie. There were six deaths due to the poorly designed rides like an alpine slide (with graphic photographs at the top of kids injured on the ride) and attractions, not too mention frequent injuries. The actually had a water slide with a loop which was never quite perfected! A few things, like the water chutes that ended about about 12 feet above the water, a rope swing with a similar drop and a cliff dive were retained for Mountain Creek, at least when I was there.


The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever – Part 1 of 2 by insane-amusement-park

Apparently, a great deal of the staff was drunk teenagers too. The owner/operator, Eugene Mulvihill ran Action Park on the fringe of legality. The second video isn’t embeddable yet, but watch it here.


The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever – Part 2 of 2 by insane-amusement-park

All interviewed look back with really nostalgic for the old Action Park, where they didn’t so much visit it, they survived it. A few years back, the original owners bought it back, brought it up to code and want to bring back the spirit too:


Mountain Creek / Action Park Bonus Footage by insane-amusement-park

Mountain Creek was pretty fun when I went there, but I’m not sure I’d be up for traveling all the way to North Jersey for it again. That being said, these videos are pretty interesting.

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The decline of NJ Turnpike exceptionalism

Generally speaking, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority has its own way of doing things. Much of “Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike” covers that subject. In short, historically the Turnpike has answered only to God (if even that) and even He would have to pay the toll.

DSC_0795
© I.C. Ligget

Perhaps the most benign examples example of that is the Turnpike’s highway signs. At least in my life time, the Turnpike has avoided the typical signing convention of having an EXIT tab, The mileage to the exit is at the top of the sign, instead of the bottom too.

It is a minor quirk, possibly not even noticed by most motorists. Now, that quirk is finally being phased out and via Northeast Roads Facebook group, Lou Corsaro has a photograph to show it:

NJ_turnpike_exit_13_mutcd
© Lou Corsaro

Of greater disappointment than the introduction of exit tabs is the sunseting of the neon advisory signs.

IMG_1156
© I.C. Ligget

I believe these have been in use for most of the Turnpike’s lifetime, but they are going away. I hope several are saved for posterity.

Lastly, the Turnpike is starting to use control cities, but really, Wilmington? Baltimore and/or Washington would be better for the long-haul travelers.

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I-295/I-76/NJ 42 interchange reconstruction has begun

NJ Route 42Interstate 295 - New JerseyInterstate 76The long-awaited reconstruction of the Interstates 295/76 and NJ 42 in Camden County, N.J. near Philadelphia (NJDOT) interchange broke ground last month. The 9 year project will is expected to cost $900 million to eliminate I-295 having to briefly merge onto the North-South Freeway which is I-76 north of the interchange and NJ 42 south of the interchange. The improved I-295 will be elevated over the North-South Freeway with less severe curves then presently. Approximately 250,000 vehicles a day travel through the interchange. Apparently, I-295 north won’t be moved to the new viaduct until 2018 with southbound being moved there in 2019. All lanes will be maintained during the project.


View Larger Map

I’ve been going through that interchange for most of my life (though not lately) and it was often backed up. At best, I-295 thru traffic needed to slow down to 35 MPH going through the interchange which is undesirable. However, when some vehicles failed to heed the slower speed, especially headed south into the 270° “Al-Jo curve” (named for the former diner at that spot) the results could be devastating, if not fatal.

Here is another video from NJ Today:

ERRATA

One thing I always liked about this interchange were the gigantic sharp left turn arrow signs (aaroads.com photo) with yellow lights that increased from right to left before flashing twice in unison. You can see it in the video below, starting at about 0:37:

The interchange is also one of the last places in New Jersey to get button-copy (embedded reflectors in letters) signs in the late 1990s.

I-76′s eastern terminus is at this interchange, but if it were up to me, the interstate numbering would replace NJ 42 and be extended down the Atlantic City Expressway all the way to Atlantic City.

MORE NEWS LINKS
$900 million road-construction project begins in BellmawrCourier Post (Cherry Hilly)

N. J. officials open $900 million project for I-295 snarl
The Inky

HISTORY
I-76 | I-295 | NJ 42phillyroads.com
PHOTO GALLERY: A look back: 295Courier Post (Cherry Hilly)
This gallery (linked off of the New Jersey Roads Facebook group) is what reminded me to look into the interchange reconstruction.

Highway markers courtesy of Shields Up!

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Official NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway merchandise likely

In the ‘what exit?’ state, famed Turnpike, Parkway logos could be marketedStar-Ledger
Several years after knockoff apparel, stickers and other tchotchkes became available, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority is getting ready to sell official merchandise. Already, unauthorized vendors are selling t-shirts with the Turnpike and Parkway logos on them. Additionally, there are plenty of stickers for various exits, usually relating to the Jersey Shore, i.e. EXIT 10 for Stone Harbor. Sometimes they do a better job than others.

The trend isn’t unique to New Jersey or highways. Transit systems, especially New York’s MTA, but also Boston’s MBTA have been selling merchandise or had others doing so for some time. Metro, the D.C. area’s subway systems has had an online store in the past, but it is down currently. I saw some “incorrect US 17 stickers along the Grand Strand” last spring, while “correct” NC 12 stickers are seem with regularity on vehicles of Outer Banks partisans. Haven’t seen any MD 528 stickers for Ocean City, Md. fans though. I’m not sure I’ve seen Delaware Route 1 stickers either.

The market for this kind of stuff is clearly established and the Turnpike Authority is catching up. Perhaps they ought to loop in the Atlantic City Expressway as well. I’d like to see the same marketing happen with the interstate highway system as well. I wonder if the Pennsylvania Turnpike, New York Thruway, Mass Pike and other toll authorities will do this as well.

H/T Steve Anderson on NYCRoads.com Facebook group

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Ground broken on interchanges to replace Garden State Parkway traffic signals

Garden State Parkway traffic signal
Garden State Parkway lights set for removal in Cape May CountyCourier-News (Cherry Hill, N.J.)
It will be about 60 years too late, but three intersections on the southern Garden State Parkway will finally have their traffic signals removed. From the Governor’s press release (PDF):

The project will replace the traffic signals at three at – grade intersections with full interchanges. Bridges will be built to carry the Parkway over Shell Bay Avenue (Interchange 9), Stone Harbor Boulevard (Interchange 10) and Crest Haven Road (Interchange 11). Ramps will provide continued full access between the Parkway and the local roads at all three interchanges. Drivers on the Garden State Parkway will no longer have to stop to let local traffic pass, and drivers on the local roads will no longer have to wait at a busy intersection to get to the other side of the Parkway.

The project is expected to cost $110 million and take about 2 years. It had been delayed until now in February 2012.

I was previously unaware that this stretch of road predates the Parkway; it was incorporated in during the original 1954 construction.

Also, note to NJ101.5, don’t steal my photos.

PREVIOUSLY: Traffic light removal on Garden State Parkway delayed – 02.22.2012

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Construction starts in May on new $350 million NJ 72 causeway to Long Beach Island

NJ Route 72$350M project to build new Rt. 72 causeways slated to begin in MayAPP
Some much-needed good news is coming to Hurricane Sandy-stricken Long Beach Island. A second series of NJ 72 bridges connecting the mainland to LBI will be constructed while the existing causeway will be rebuilt. Walkways/bikeways will be included on both alignments.

THE “MOST IMPORTANT” NEWS

They new bridge also will incorporate a modern interpretation of the unusual “string of pearls” street lights across the existing causeway, which will be incorporated in the outside railings to make a visual statement from all approaches, Simpson

It has been several years since I went to Long Beach Island after going there for most of my life, but I have been itching for a return. That may happen this summer, though the continuing recovery from Hurricane Sandy may prevent that trip.

Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges Project – NJDOT

Highway marker by Shields Up!

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Save the Jersey jughandles!

Ocean Drive exit from NJ 147 east
A state senator from Toms River, is proposing that New Jersey stop constructing “jughandles.”

Traffic-control design throws state roadways for a loopAPP

The half-loop intersection design — known to out-of-staters as the Jersey Jughandle, requiring motorists to turn right even when they want to go left — is failing the test of high-volume traffic, said Sen. James W. Holzapfel, R-Ocean.

A bill proposed by Holzapfel would ban future construction of jughandles on the state’s roads and highways. The Senate Transportation Committee will have a public hearing Monday on the bill.

While there are certainly jughandles that need to be reviewed and perhaps replaced, eliminating them from future consideration is a fool’s errand. Jughandles, while misunderstood, can actually be quite beneficial because they allow through traffic to keep left and not have to break for another car slowing down to get in a left-turn lane.

There’s more from Bloomberg Business Week: New Jersey Jughandle Bill Seeks End of Left-Turn Oddity

New Jersey has at least 600 jughandles, more than any other U.S. state, according to Tim Greeley, a spokesman for the state Transportation Department. 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…

“Jughandles provide more storage for vehicles off the main line and keep them out of harm’s way. If you created a direct left-hand turn lane in a place of high volume, cars could stack up and interfere with movement of cars in a highway’s fast lane. That reduces the ability of the main line to handle traffic volume,’’ Dee said. “It’s also pedestrian-friendly. An intersection with one or more left turning lanes creates a greater area for a pedestrian to transverse. Jughandles can improve both the safety and operational aspects of an intersection.’’

A Federal Highway Administration study of five years of crash data at 94 New Jersey intersections found lower accident rates at jughandle intersections compared to conventional designs. That included crashes with injuries and those with only property damage. The jughandle intersections also had lower rates of head-on crashes.

Yup that’s a lot of jughandles so much that’s I heard New Jersey’s state motto is “All Turns from the Right Lane.” Here’s another thing:

Among intersections with similar volumes, traffic moves faster through those with jughandles than those without.

So, jughandles move traffic faster and have lower accident rates. What’s the problem again, Senator?

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