Robbinsville’s roads are getting more and more congested, and the township is taking action to see what can be done to fix them.
Township officials have commissioned a comprehensive traffic study of the township’s main roads this month hoping to get a better idea of how much more traffic capacity they can carry and what they can do to improve the situation.
The study, which is being conducted by Maser Engineering at a cost of $17,000, is designed to find any changes that can be made to improve traffic flow. Part of the cost will be paid for through the township’s engineering and transportation fund, while the rest will be paid for by developers.
“Essentially, we want to understand the traffic in the region,” Mayor Dave Fried said.
The study mainly focuses on two areas: Route 33 from the border with Hamilton (at the Foxmoor Shopping Center) to Route 130; and 130 at Sharon Road to the Hamilton border near South Gold Drive. It will take approximately three weeks, and will begin after Labor Day. Township officials felt the statistics would better reflect a normal traffic cycle at this time, with school starting and most people returned from vacations.
“Once the study is completed, we’ll take a look at it and see the conditions of the roads and the capacity, if there’s additional capacity, or if they need help in relieving stress,” said Hal English, community development director, who will be working closely with Maser Engineering.
Fried announced the study in late July, explaining his reasoning in a video still viewable on the township’s website, robbinsville.net.
“The biggest concern that I hear from people is about traffic,” Fried said. “We have a lot of people who want to do projects in town, and we’ve got a lot of interest from a lot of different developers in a lot of different spots. Every developer is doing their own traffic study, but the problem is that no one is really doing one traffic study for the entire area. So what I want to do is to take a global look at what we’re going to do in order to accommodate all these projects.
“Right now we’ve got so many projects that it stands to reason that we may not be able to accommodate everyone, but we have to see what we can and cannot accommodate.”
Fried said the traffic in some of the areas as “quite poor.” For example, Main Street, between Ernie’s Tavern and Route 130, is an area particularly in need of help, he said. Many motorists do not take the 526 bypass to Robbinsville-Edinburg Road, so eastbound traffic backs up.
Already in the works is a plan to alleviate the situation by constructing a right hand turn lane on Main Street at Route 130, so that those going south on 130 will be able to make a right hand turn more easily. A previous study of that area showed 80 percent of the cars on Main Street are making a right hand turn near the Delta gas station, heading south on Route 130.
Another problem area is going west on Route 33, with people on Route 130 making a left onto Main Street from Route 130. Fried said much of that traffic is coming from the Hamilton Marketplace.
“It’s actually a condition being generated by Hamilton, but it creates a tremendous amount of traffic in our town,” he said. “We need to think about what we can do with that intersection.”
The study will survey an area where the state had proposed a bypass of the Town Center area a decade ago. If constructed, that road would have run from Route 33 at Washington Boulevard to Route 130 at South Gold Drive, effectively diverting traffic away from Town Center.
The plan would have also created a boulevard-like roadway where Route 33 currently travels through Town Center. The state backed out of the plan, though, and Fried said there is a “zero percent chance” that bypass gets built now.
“Now we have to create our own solution, which has created a little bit of a challenge for us,” Fried said, adding that the traffic situation is one of the reasons the second half of Town Center—referred to as Town Center South—has not yet been built. The land for Town Center South is across Route 33 from the existing Town Center development.
Township officials said a bypass through the yet-to-be-constructed Town Center South could be one potential solution, as is extending Robbinsville-Edinburg Road all the way to Route 130.
English said the township will hold off on any decisions until the study determines the best way to move traffic through Robbinsville. The township does plan to bring the traffic study to the state Department of Transportation, and the request the DOT name the area a traffic improvement district.
The state Municipal Land Use Law allows municipalities to require developers to construct roads or to collect fees for the impact of their projects on local infrastructure. This designation would allow the township to require developers building in the area to pay for any road improvements.
“What we want the people of Robbinsville to know is that we hear them, that the traffic on Route 33 is busy and that we want to make any improvements possible,” English said.