HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Township Police Traffic Sgt. Wade Smith remembers as far back as six years ago having discussions with then Deputy Police Chief Mike Petuskey about the complaints he received from numerous residents regarding the intersection of Routes 40 and 50 in Mays Landing.
“The noted problem at this intersection has been repeatedly brought up on numerous occasions, all recurring back to 2014,” said Smith, who added a recent bridge closure has added more traffic due to a detour.
The intersection of Routes 40 and 50 is a four-way signalized intersection.
Travel east and west is fed by U.S. 40, a New Jersey State Highway. The north-south directions are fed by Route 50, a New Jersey State Highway, south of the intersection, and Atlantic County Route 616 (Mill Street) north of the intersection.
The township decided to begin tackling the problem by paying for a $1,700 traffic study that was a collaborative effort between Township Traffic Engineer Kevin J. Dixon and the Township Police Department, Smith said.
“We both made recommendations and were sounding boards to each other during the process,” Smith said. “We are addressing the intersection now in order to improve the flow of traffic through the intersection and to minimize the delay to the traffic traveling through the area.”
The conflict in the traffic pattern is obvious when someone is standing at the Lukoil gas station at 6068 Harding Highway, which is also known as Route 40.
The cars traveling north on Route 50 are faced with no-turn-on-red signs. Once the light turns green, the cars turn right from Route 50 north to Route 40 east.
At the exact same time, there are vehicles traveling south on Mill Street making a left-hand turn at the light to also travel east on Route 40.
“Motorists turning right from Route 50 conflict with opposing lefts approaching from their left as they attempt to turn right onto Route 40,” the report said.
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Even though Mill Street is a county road, the county has no jurisdiction for the Routes 40 and 50 intersection, said Linda Gilmore, the Atlantic County spokeswoman.
Two crashes have been recorded in this area by the township’s police department, both involving rear-end collisions, the report said.
“One of those involved the driver of the lead vehicle stopping suddenly due to a left turning vehicle from Mill Street (Co. Rt. 616) and a resulting rear-end collision with no injuries reported,” the report said. “Sudden moves while driving increase dangerous conditions because driver reactions are challenged by the sudden realization of vehicles approaching from the left.”
The report has recommendations on how to fix the problem.
The three no-turn-on-red signs that control drivers as they travel on Route 50 north and turn right onto Route 40 east should be replaced with yield signs, and the red phase of the light controlling the right-turning traffic should be either eliminated in favor of a flashing amber signal or no signal at all.
“While no traffic control device is capable of preventing driver inattention, and therefore cannot stop all crashes, the yield sign directs right-turning vehicles to pay attention to vehicles approaching from the left, while the no-turn-on-red signs, rightly or wrongly, suggest to the motorist that a green signal phase equals right of way,” the report said.
The report has been sent to the state Department of Transportation, said Township Administrator Arch Liston.
The state Department of Transportation has received the township’s report, and the department is aware of the township’s concerns, said Brian Ahrens, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.
“Our Bureau of Traffic Engineering will review the report and determine if any signage improvements or other changes are warranted,” Ahrens said. “The review process is anticipated to take approximately one month.”
If the recommendations from Dixon’s report are implemented, the traffic traveling through the intersection will be expedited, Smith said.
“I also think the delay experienced by some motorists would be minimized. Additionally, the implementation would standardize the right of way through the intersection and help with incidents of close calls and some types of same-direction, rear-end crashes,” Smith said.