UPDATE as of 3 a.m. Thursday 5/23

Less than 48 hours after writing this, I am pleased to report that the traffic light at Route 1 and Blackhorse Lane has been fixed!

I can not say for sure whether my article was responsible, but I sure appreciate whoever in the NJ Department of Transportation finally took this issue seriously and resolved it. Hopefully the issue does not resurface. I'm looking forward to a 2-minute shorter commute in every morning now!

ORIGINAL POST from 9:44 a.m. Tuesday 5/21

Every morning at 2:15 a.m., I hit the road for work. The bulk of my early commute takes me along U.S. Route 1, between the Garden State Parkway and Interstate 295. From Woodbridge to Edison to New Brunswick to North Brunswick to South Brunswick to Plainsboro to West Windsor to Lawrence Township.

It is a fairly quiet and fast ride at that time of night — just me and some truckers, night owls, and early birds.

Needless to say, after cruising down that 27-mile stretch of Route 1 practically every weekday for almost ten years, I know the ride very well. The hot spots for traffic, for slow vehicles, for speed demons. The speed limit changes, the all-night gas stations, the timing of the traffic lights.

So when something is different? I notice.

Recently, I have been plagued by one particular intersection in South Brunswick, NJ. It has absolutely become the worst part of my commute.

A familiar scene to overnight travelers on Route 1. A red light at Blackhorse Lane. (Dan Zarrow, Townsquare Media)
A familiar scene to overnight travelers on Route 1. A red light at Blackhorse Lane. (Dan Zarrow, Townsquare Media)

Blackhorse Lane, in South Brunswick just over the border from North Brunswick, is far from a major road. It leads to a few warehouses, a wooded area, and the back entrance of an apartment complex. That's it.

The location of the Route 1 intersection in question, right on the border between North Brunswick and South Brunswick. (Google Maps)
The location of the Route 1 intersection in question, right on the border between North Brunswick and South Brunswick. (Google Maps)

For a couple months now, the timing of the traffic light has been completely different. And completely wrong.

The traffic coming to/from the Blackhorse Lane side street gets a green light for almost 2 minutes, whether there is cross traffic turning onto the highway or not.

Meanwhile, the light along the much busier Route 1 (northbound and southbound) only turns green for about 15 seconds.

It does turn green! (Google Streetview)
It does turn green! (Google Streetview)

I get stuck at the red light almost every single morning.

Is it the end of the world? Of course not.

But two minutes a day, ten minutes a week. That adds up to over 8 hours over the course of a year. Just sitting and waiting for the Blackhorse Lane light to turn green.

What is especially curious is that the traffic light in question does not seem to have this problem during the day, as I'm traveling home from work. It appears to be limited to the overnight hours.

This is not the first time such an issue has happened along Route 1. The traffic lights at both New Rd. in Monmouth Junction and North Oaks Blvd. in North Brunswick had similar red light irregularities. After a brief time, each was fixed and returned to normal.

There is one more piece to this story. In an attempt to resolve the traffic light malfunction, I visited the New Jersey Department of Transportation website. (They handle maintenance on state and federal highways in New Jersey.) I found a link for Pothole / Maintenance Reporting. Perfect!

Screenshot of NJDOTProblemReporting.com. (NJ DOT)
Screenshot of NJDOTProblemReporting.com. (NJ DOT)

It has been a few weeks since I filled out and submitted the form. No reply. And no resolution.

Maybe I should have been tipped off by the outdated copyright on that site (2018). Or the header showing Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who passed away last summer.

I have to think my request is just sitting in some unattended inbox at DOT headquarters. I also have to wonder how many other serious highway maintenance issues are sitting in that same neverending queue?

I'm sure it is an easy fix. A broken sensor that needs replacement? A haywire timer that needs to be reset? A fried computer that needs reprogramming?

Going through the official public resolution process did nothing. Maybe if I write a scathing article read by thousands of New Jerseyans, someone will notice? (I'll keep you posted!)

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Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Check out Dan's weather blog or follow him on Facebook for your latest weather forecast updates.

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