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Top 8 Traffic Stories of 2013

It’s traditional at the end of the year to look back over the top stories in a variety of fields. I’ve covered traffic in the New Jersey area since the 1970s and I don’t recall ever seeing a listing of the top traffic stories of the year so I thought I’d take a shot at reviewing some of the top traffic and transit stories of 2013. 

In no particular order, the stories are:

 


Red light camera at Route 1 and Bakers Basin in Lawrence
Red light camera at Route 1 and Bakers Basin in Lawrence (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

Red Light Cameras

 
 

The state's controversial red-light camera pilot program  was in the news throughout the year.  In August, Assemblyman Delcan O'Scanlon (R) released videos showing the timing of yellow lights at many camera-equipped intersections was shorter than legally-allowed. Governor Christie suspended the program to make sure they were calibrated but his advice for drivers was to not go through red lights. Both sides, meanwhile, ran advertising campaigns to make their cases that the lights were for safety or a source of revenue. This issue will likely continue into 2014.

 
George Washington Bridge
The George Washington Bridge, connecting New Jersey and New York, is operated jointly through the Port Authority. (John Moore, Getty Images

"Bridgegate"

 
 

In September, the closure of two toll lanes at the George Washington Bridge grew from a local story to one with national implications.  A political appointee, and former high school classmate of Governor Christie, David Wildstein, ordered two-thirds of the lanes that service local streets from Fort Lee to be shut and told the manager of the bridge to not tell Fort Lee officials.  The week long closure resulted in massive delays in the borough.  Democrats questioned if the closure was political retribution because the Democrat  mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, didn't endorse the governor's re-election bid.  The closures were claimed to be part of a traffic study.  The controversy forced the resignation of Wildstein and Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni.

 
Route 35 in Normandy Beach
Jason Allentoff, Townsquare Media NJ

Recovery From Superstorm Sandy

 
 

New Jersey's transportation network continued its recovery from Sandy in 2013.  In January PATH resumed 24/7 service on part of its service, while in November the historic waiting room of Hoboken Terminal opened for the first time in over a year.  In February, Route 35 reopened through Manatoloking, restoring a vital shore roadway.

 
Rail damage to NJ Transit's North Jersey Coast Line between South Amboy & Matawan stations
Rail damage to NJ Transit's North Jersey Coast Line between South Amboy & Matawan stations (Facebook)

NJ Transit's Sandy Preparation

 
 

NJ Transit, accused of not taking proper precautions to protect rail cars and engines during the storm, was the subject of both legislative hearings and news stories looking at what they knew before the storm and what they decided to do with that information. An independent study concluded  vulnerability assessments are needed for facilities including maintenance yards and called for flood models for all key facilities.

 
Canopy collapse at the former Dinky train station in Princeton
Canopy collapse at the former Dinky train station in Princeton (Twitter/@Princetonian)

Dinky Station Closure

 
 

New Jersey and America's shortest commuter rail line became a little shorter in August when the Princeton Dinky line was cutback about 460 feet to accommodate Princeton University's plans for an Arts and Transit project.

 
Strolling on the New Jersey Turnpike
Strolling on the New Jersey Turnpike (Twitter)

Turnpike Comes to a Standstill

 
 

Crashes are a daily part of life on New Jersey's highways but one that stands out was one on the Turnpike that forced the closure of the roadway for nearly five hours.  A bus was rear-ended by a dump truck in the northbound lanes near Interchange 7A in Hamilton Township.  Several cars were also involved.  There were several injuries but no fatalities from the incident that resulted in long delays not only on the Turnpike but on alternate routes.

 
Pennsauken Transit Center (NJ Transit via Facebook)
Pennsauken Transit Center (NJ Transit via Facebook)

Pennsauken Transit Center

 
 

For years, NJ Transit's River Line and Atlantic City Line crossed each other but making a trip using both lines was a challenge.  In October that changed with the opening of the Pennsauken Transit Center.  The station has a stop on the River Line on the lower level and a platform on the upper level for the Atlantic City Line making connections much easier.

 
Route 130 Operation Safe Passage (NJ OAG)

New Jersey's Most Dangerous Road

 
 

Route 130 was named the state's most dangerous road for pedestrians for the fifth year in a row by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.  Burlington County law enforcement officials began an 18-month program in May to increase safety on the highway.

 

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