Don’t freak out about commotion on NJ highways this week
You can expect lots of commotion along several major Jersey highways later this week, but don’t worry.
Now that hurricane season is officially underway, the state Department of Transportation along with other agencies and law enforcement officials will be conducting a hurricane evacuation exercise on Thursday.
“It’s where our road crews practice setting up for a worst case scenario if we had a hurricane and had to evacuate the shore region,” said Steve Schapiro, spokesman for the New Jersey DOT.
He said during the exercise crews will carry out a plan to “basically stop traffic and set up what’s called a contra flow, and that’s where you reverse the direction of traffic on a roadway to help expedite people getting out of harm’s way.”
He stressed “we’re not closing any of the highways during the drill but we’re actually going to be out there positioning things like barrels and cones and the VMS boards that you see that have messages, things like that. The idea is to see how long it takes us to stage all the equipment.”
Schapiro noted the DOT actually begins the exercise Tuesday, with a series of mock weather reports that simulate a scenario where a major storm is brewing, “and then we progress through all the steps we’d have to take to be prepared to take order an evacuation. We’ll be working with the state police, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority.”
He indicated motorists may notice a lot of activity and flashing lights along the side of certain highways, but “they shouldn’t be alarmed or nervous at all, just if you do see them, slow down, and if they’re in the shoulder and if you have room please move over to give them more space.”
Major roads that will be part of the drill include:
• The Atlantic City Expressway (entire length from Atlantic City to Washington Township)
• The Garden State Parkway (mile marker 0 in Lower Township to mile post 38 in Egg Harbor)
• Route 195 (mile marker 6 in Robbinsville to about mile post 34 in Wall)
• Route 72 (mile marker 0 in Woodland to approximately mile post 29 in Ship Bottom)
• Route 47 (mile marker 16 to 21 in Dennis, and approximately mile post 32 to 35 in Maurice River)
• Route 347 (mile marker 0 in Dennis to about mile post 9 in Maurice River)
The DOT is reminding drivers it’s unlawful for anyone, including members of the media, to pull off to the side of the highway for any reason other than a bonafide emergency.