Back roads are getting more congested in New Jersey
As congestion on New Jersey roads and highways keeps getting worse, a growing number of commuters are using back roads on their trip to and from work. The new traffic patterns have resulted in jams, especially in parts of Central Jersey, and new headaches for the state Department of Transportation.
"Our infrastructure has not kept pace with the development, whether it's in Somerset County, Hunterdon County or whatever county you want to point to," said DOT Commissioner Jamie Fox.
As more vehicles use the state's smaller roads, more money is being spent to fix them.
"We're spending more money on upkeep because of the wear and tear. With more cars and trucks traveling over a small road, particularly a local road, you're going to spend a lot more money whether it's in potholes or upgrades in general," Fox said.
But what about projects like the Route 206 bypass, which was designed to give drivers more options?
The commissioner said to finish this more money is needed. "Like with anything else, we need additional revenue. You know money does not grow on trees." So far half of the project has been completed.
New Jersey 101.5 traffic reporter Bob Williams pointed out the Route 206 bypass is still a long way from completion. "It's maybe a couple of years away from being completed, so that's not going to help. It's a band-aid on a situation that's been hemorrhaging for years."
Williams said when it comes to picking roads in an effort to avoid traffic, commuters don't have a lot of choices these days.
"I mean it's either going on a back road, a county road or just taking your chances and just sitting on Route 206, which is really over capacity. It may cost somebody a little bit of extra time, maybe an extra 10 or 15 minutes to take a county road, but at least you know they're reliable. You know what you're going to be getting."
Williams said people who do their homework can avoid some problems.
"If you've mapped yourself out and you've done your homework and you know where you're going, you can certainly do much better, as far as time-wise going with a county road or a back road, like 173 or County Road 523 out of Hunterdon County. We're seeing a lot more traffic on the Great Road out of Mercer County up toward Somerset, making your way toward Hillsborough. These roads give commuters options."
Fox said the bottom line here is pretty straightforward.
"We're spending more money, just in a band aid approach to some of these things, rather than getting serious and taking on the project where we actually widen the road and upgrade it. The state simply needs additional revenue for transportation," Fox said.