By LINDA G. RASTELLI
Just moments after Monmouth County and Middletown officials packed up their press conference to tout a “safer” new traffic configuration in Lincroft this morning, a motorist drove into oncoming traffic in the $1.2 million ‘roundabout‘.
Yep, redbankgreen saw it with its own digital eyes. And there’s the proof, above.
As near-misses go, this one was pretty slow speed. No accident ensued.
Still, was it an anomaly, or a harbinger of problems for users of the reconfigured entrance to Brookdale Community College on Newman Springs Road?
We’re still waiting to hear back from the experts. So watch this space.
The errant turn was made by a motorist coming from the east on Newman Springs Road. He or she he sailed right past a brand spanking new “Do Not Enter” sign into traffic heading eastbound through the circle.
The incident occurred just after a ribbon cutting ceremony at which county freeholders, local officials and a traffic consultant espoused the advantages of the new system over the old T-shaped intersection at the site.
They also sought to depict the ’roundabout’ as a friendlier creature than that dreaded beast of New Jersey highways past, the traffic circle.
The difference? It’s not merely a matter of putting a little Queens English on it, the experts say. Traffic circles usually allow cars entering from the main artery to do so without yielding; those entering from smaller roads must yield.
Roundabouts require all cars entering the configuration to yield. They’re also smaller, forcing vehicles to slow down, the experts contend.
“Once you’re inside the roundabout, you’re king or queen of it until you exit,” Michael Wallwork, a traffic consultant from Florida who worked on the design with the county, told redbankgreen by phone. “Everyone entering has to yield to you.”
There are also “fewer points of conflict” with pedestrians, said County Engineer Joe Ettore.
While there are still a few dinosaur traffic circles left in New Jersey, including the Wall circle at Route 34 and Allaire Road, this is the first and only roundabout in Monmouth County, officials say.
Already, though, the roundabout has been the cause of some “points of conflict” among local bloggers, who fear the notorious Jersey traffic circle. This despite the fact that a community organization, the Lincroft Village Green Association, spearheaded the drive to have it built, and even raised money from residents for Wallwork’s participation, said Jill Henry, vice president of the association and 23-year Lincroft resident.
“We didn’t want the road widened at the Lincroft [Elementary] school, or a jughandle, an additional left turn lane [at the college], or for it to become a four-lane road, Henry explained, listing some options the county had been considering.
Group members spent hours of their own time researching the issue, decided the roundabout would be the best solution, and lobbied the county engineering department and Middletown committee members to go along.
The group’s success is undeniable; its website says the roundabout will be completed in September, so by our calculations, it is actually finished ahead of schedule.
As for the opposition to the roundabout, Henry said, “People just dont understand how it works yet.”
Which takes us back to the photo above.
“It’ll be a zoo until people get used to it,” said Lincroft Village Green member Bill Thorpe.