On the Origins of the Jersey Jughandle

It took me a long time to, er, come around to the logic and efficacy (at least in safety terms) of the Jersey Jughandle, but following a prompt from Anthony Townsend, do any NJ DOT readers or likewise know how the Garden State came to be the leader in this somewhat rare infrastructural form? Taking a stab I’d say it had something to do with the state’s density and preponderance of highways, but can anyone elucidate us beyond that; e.g., the name of the inventor, etc.

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6 Responses to “On the Origins of the Jersey Jughandle”

  1. Tom Armstrong Says:

    Not having heard the term before, I dug up the wiki reference out of curiosity:

    It doesn’t answer your question, but it answered my main one of “what is that?” It also offered a couple of advantages and disadvantages. Not surprisingly, the disadvantages outnumber the advantages. Weighting the relative advantages is tough. “It seemed like a good idea at the time” doesn’t support them but so much.

    The Watterson Expressway (some call it the Distressway) in Louisville KY was originally designed in the 1950s, and had stop signs controlling hard right-angle turns onto a limited access (60mph) road in the older sections before they figured out that ramps were safer. It was 1988 or 1990 before they updated the whole thing to include collector lanes for most major intersections and get rid of the left-lane merges.

  2. TBT Says:

    Don’t know how to answer your question – but jughandles can be favorable when there are a lot of left turns at an intersection because it turns those lefts into two right turns outside the main intersection. This will help increase the intersection capacity. However, the main problem is that you do so at the cost of creating two new intersections and new intersections always increase the possibility of vehicular and pedestrian conflicts.

    It may be the New Jersey installed many of these as a cost saver rather than building full grade-separated interchanges with loop ramps.

  3. Bossi Says:

    With Jersey as my birthstate & also where I learned to drive, I can at least say that my motorist side is an avid fan of jughandles. There are some decent ones that work with pedestrians, as well, but usually the footprint of the full intersection area tends to discourage walkable development… so more often than not, they’re not too ped/bike friendly.

    As to history, I can’t say for sure on New Jersey’s history; but I know that from my own experience as a traffic engineer in a neighboring state: we look at them for the same reasons that TBT highlighted: areas with plenty of right-of-way, a certain pattern of traffic volumes, and a major cost savings as compared to grade-separation.

    There are even several junctions in Jersey which include jughandles on all four corners… from aerial photos they look just like a full-fledged cloverleaf interchange until you realise that there’s an actual intersection sitting in the middle.

  4. Jeremy Parker Says:

    I was told, back in the mid sixties sometime, I think, that New Jersey had previously had traffic circles, and jughandles replaced most, although not quite all, of those circles. Who told me I have long since forgotten, and I have no idea whether they knew what they were talking about

    Jeremy Parker

  5. John Says:

    The history of jughandles in NJ is indeed at least partly tied up with NJ’s circles. In many places, there were circles where the “main” road was cut through the circle, effectively turning the circle into a kind of jughandle-sh thing (see: circle at Rt. 46 and Bergen Turnpike in Little Ferry; several former circles along Rt. 1 around the Princeton area). Some were later further modified to be even more un-circle-like weird jughandly things (Rts. 1/9 at Edgewater Ave/Hendricks Causeway in Ridgefield; Rts. 1/9 at Rt. 3 in North Bergen; many others).

    Ultimately it has to do a lot with when NJ suburbanized, and the decisions they made about roads at that time. This was in the late ’30s, the ’40s and ’50s and into the ’60s.

    Having grown up in NY state, it seems to me that NJ highways are less centrally planned than NY’s. You can perceive this just by the signage in NJ. You can’t depend on route signs being placed systematically and reliably, and there seems to be no state bureaucracy in place for checking signage placement standards for new signs, and for checking and replacing existing signs. In NJ, it seems that they hire a contractor or contractors to build or rebuild a road, then they don’t look at it again for 20 years, except maybe to fix the potholes. It probably has a lot to do with NJ’s strong home-rule municipal government system.

  6. Kate White Says:

    So, next, will you address the Michigan Left?

    Which actually seems to only be native to the greater metro Detroit area, but no one wants to rename it “the Dearborn Left”.

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