EWING, NJ – With the first of two roundabouts set to come fully online Monday at the I-295/Route 29 interchange (Exit 76, old exit 1) on the New Jersey side of the Scudder Falls Bridge, the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission today released a brief set of tips to assist motorists who might be unfamiliar with how a roundabout works.
A roundabout is a circular intersection in which motorists travel around a center island in a counterclockwise direction. While they have been used for generations in European countries, they have only begun to be used in the United States over the past couple decades.
The new “downstream” roundabout at the I-295/Route 29 interchange will serve traffic movements between I-295 SB and Route 29 NB and SB. A series of overnight ramp and lane closures are scheduled to be implemented over the course of the coming weekend to transition the roundabout into full service by 6 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22.
The roundabout will have a single lane with triangular access and departure points. Entry lanes to the roundabout will have yield signs.
Single-lane roundabouts are the easiest for motorists to navigate. There are two basic caveats:
- All vehicles move counter-clockwise around the circular center island in a roundabout.
- Motorists approaching a roundabout must yield to the left for any traffic already in a roundabout. Put another way: traffic that is already in a roundabout always has the Right of Way.
The other rules of the road for a roundabout are as follows:
- Slow down – While there are no stop signs at a roundabout, slower speeds are essential for ensuring safe and efficient travel movements.
- Entering – Always veer to the right when entering a roundabout and only after first yielding to any traffic that might already be in the roundabout.
- Never stop once inside a roundabout – The vehicle in a roundabout always has the right-of-way.
- Departing – Exit lanes from the roundabout are to the right; look for destination signage at these locations.
- Be courteous – Look to your right when approaching a roundabout’s exit lane, check your mirror and use the turn signal to communicate your intended movement to other motorists.
- Roundabouts are forgiving – If a motorists misses an exit point, he or she can simply continue around the roundabout again to the desired exit lane.
Roundabouts are considered an efficient means for moving traffic through congested intersections with multiple entry and exit points. They have been shown to calm traffic, increase safety, reduce stop-and-go travel, and decrease travel delays in such applications.
For these reasons, roundabouts were determined to be the solution for addressing the “spaghetti bowl” of crisscrossing ramps, lanes, weaves and dangerous sightlines that have long been the bane of motorists who used the current I-295/Route 29 interchange.
The Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project’s 2009 Environmental Assess described the interchange’s many shortcoming’s under the heading “Project Need: Interchange configurations do not currently meet design criteria for land and shoulder widths and ramp configurations:”
Geometric deficiencies along the I-95 (now I-295) project area also include the configuration of interchanges adjoining the I-95/Scudder Falls Bridge. In particular, the NJ Route 29 Interchange has a scissors configuration, with multiple ramp merges and at-grade intersections and is complex and confusing for drivers. The NJDOT Final Step 1 Engineering Report for I-95/New Jersey Route 29/New Jersey Route 175 Interchange (November 1995) indicated that the interchange includes nineteen ramp merges and seven at-grade intersections…The configurations of the bridge and adjoining interchange merges do not meet current design standards. The NJ Route 29 Interchange experience the highest number of crashes of the locations in the project area for the three-year period from 1999 to 2001.”
The redesign/reconstruction of the I-295/Route 29 interchange is a major facet of the 4-1/2-year-long Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project, which is currently underway along a 4.4-mile segment of I-295 in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A second roundabout is expected to be constructed early next year on the interchange’s upstream side prior to the yet-to-be-determined opening date of the first completed span of the Scudder Falls Replacement Bridge.
A recent progress photo of the current downstream roundabout construction can be found here.