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Lane control system helps NJTA reduce traffic impacts

Fairfax, Va. — When the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) determined that the northbound lanes of the Pulaski Skyway would be closed for two years to complete a $1 billion rehabilitation program, it anticipated that traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s (NJTA) adjacent Newark Bay-Hudson County Extension (NBHCE) would be significantly impacted. Approximately 40,000 northbound vehicles would need to be accommodated by alternate roadways or travel modes, including 9,600 in the peak morning period of 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Electronic displays indicate if the shoulder is open, closed, or about to be closed. Photo: Dewberry

To increase capacity on the NBHCE, the NJTA preemptively upgraded the condition of the eastbound shoulder for use as a travel lane during peak traffic hours. As part of the upgrades, Dewberry played a major role in conducting the feasibility assessment and eventual design of New Jersey’s first signalized temporary Lane Control System (LCS) to regulate traffic use of the shoulder. As part of this work, the existing shoulder pavement and bridge deck were rehabilitated to accommodate additional traffic.

On an accelerated schedule of less than six months, Dewberry designed the LCS specifically for this 4.5-mile section of the NBHCE. Eleven electronic displays now indicate if the shoulder is open with a green down arrow, closed with a red X, or warning that it is about to be closed with a yellow arrow directing traffic out of the shoulder. Closed circuit digital video cameras were placed at strategic locations for traffic monitoring by the Statewide Traffic Management Center (TMC) in Woodbridge, N.J.

The system regulates traffic use of the shoulder. Photo: Dewberry

A new wireless point-to-point radio system was installed, which conducts video transmission and display control between each location and the TMC. In addition to the individual subscriber radios at the LCS locations, the radio system includes two new base station installments on the NJTA Bayonne Cell Tower for line-of-sight to each LCS location and heightened base station radio redundancy.

The temporary LCS effectively increases eastbound capacity by 50 percent, is fully operational, and has already reduced traffic backups on the Turnpike since its launch on March 31, 2014.