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Direct Connection Project: New Tunnel Goes Live In February!  We Explain The Traffic Lights!

If you haven’t seen the tunnel that was built heading up 295 north at 42 (as part of the massive Direct Connection project) we cover it in our long videos on Direct Connection and Missing Moves.  If you don’t want to skip through an hour and a half of video (Ha!)…  simply, to facilitate how traffic from three directions moves into 295 North, the project includes a tunnel, which is needed to allow the inbound roads (heading up to 295) the proper safe road angles

The NJDOT press release goes out next week.  Only 42Freeway.com has this information today.

Tunnel Usage Starts Early February

42Freeway communicated with Steven Shapiro of NJDOT who explains that next weekend (February 1) starts the process of realigning roads heading onto North 295 to go through the tunnel!   After next “Superbowl” weekend it seems 42North to 295 traffic will be using the tunnel.  Well let’s step back a minute and tell the story which Mr Shapiro shared with 42Freeway.

  • Feb 1st Weekend:  Route 42 North to 295 North will reduce to 2 lanes, and be directed THROUGH the tunnel!    Interestingly, this is only temporary… but in this case, temporary means several years.  This is so the state contractors can work on the larger overhead highway and how it connects to 295.
  • A few weeks later:  Eastbound 76 (coming from Philadelphia) heading to 295 North will also move through the tunnel!
  • A few years later:  The final plan the tunnel is only for the Eastbound 76 traffic heading to 295 North.  Route 42 to 295 North will have a new ramp to 295 North, which won’t be through the tunnel.

Final Construction 42N-295N:  While for the next couple years 42N-to-295N will go through the tunnel, in the final construction that route will travel ABOVE the tunnel, via a new ramp which will connect to the overheard 295 road!  See below from NJDOT video (and my recap)

In a few years 42N to 295N will travel UP to the new 295 roadway, and OVER the tunnel

What are the traffic lights?!

The conversation with NJDOT’s Mr Shapiro came about because so many readers wanted to know “What are the traffic lights on the new highway heading into the tunnel?!”

Simply.. they are a safety measure and not expected to be used in normal operation.

The traffic signals that have been installed prior to the covered roadway are considered to be a safety measure. The signals are not intended to indicate whether a lane is open or not. They normally will display a steady GREEN, unless there is an incident in the covered roadway. If there is an incident, the display would be changed to RED in order to stop traffic and allow emergency responders to clear the incident.

(Thank you Mr Shapiro of NJDOT for the extra clarity, and extra information!)

I’ll add, if you realize that the two traffic lanes coming into the tunnel are entering on an angle… consider if something happened inside the tunnel… even something as simple as someone running out of gas and stopped on the lane…  the traffic coming in at 50 mph on the approach bending road won’t have good visibility to that disabled car.  With the traffic lights in place, drivers can be signaled in advance of entering the tunnel “This lane is closed”

The Bellmawr Fire Department posted on Facebook that they were able to spend several mornings working in the tunnel, to understand what they need to do to support incidences.

The Big Overhead Road is Coming Soon

We’ll have more on the future contracts and plans.. but yes, this is all heading towards a key significant part of the project.. the building of the main 295 overpass which will go from the tunnel area, over 42/76 and the Browning Road bridge, and connect back on the ground behind the Bellmawr Park School and Little League Fields.

This Post Has 6 Comments
  1. Before I go into my analysis…here’s a brief background, and I’m talking about regular intersections first. Previously, NJDOT simply wanted at least 2 signals at each intersection. While this is great if a light is burned out, the placement of the lights were often somewhat hard to see, especially at the stop line (For example: look at the placement of the lights on Rt. 42 at Fries Mill Road). More recently, at most intersections, traffic lights are placed on the opposite side of the intersection over each lane (For example: go to the next intersection up on Rt. 42 at Johnson Rd and see the placement of the traffic lights there). This is generally called the ‘light per lane’ approach to traffic signals. There can be supplemental lights on the side and other places for better visibility, but the main thing is today’s guidelines call for one light over each lane clearly visible to the motorist at the stop line.

    Going back to this tunnel: Look at the first pic at the top of the page. There’s 3 traffic lights, slanted slightly to the right. That’s telling me that, utilizing the light per lane approach, 3 lanes of 295/42 traffic will be entering the tunnel at this point. I’m not completely sure if that’s true or not though, because it certainly appears that the tunnel narrows on the exiting side of the tunnel. I’m trying to look at the painted lane lines in the tunnel when I pass by, but there’s so much equipment and dirt that it’s hard to tell. It would make sense to not end a lane within the tunnel, so that’s what is a bit confusing to me.

    However, this is something to consider as well: When construction is said and done, there’s going to be 2 lanes of traffic going thru this tunnel (the ramp for 76 East to 295 North). The tunnel is going to be wide enough to fit 4 or 5 lanes today. This is going to be an *extremely* wide tunnel for its intended, final use, but due to what was needed during the construction period, they had to build it this wide.

    In the end, there’s going to be lights above the lane. If it’s anything like the traffic lights approaching the Rt. 29 tunnel in Trenton, they will always be green, even when a lane is closed. If the lights are red (I saw this once), they will be ignored and traffic will continue to go thru the tunnel until a cop comes out and physically blocks traffic!

    1. Good point on Rt 29 Tunnel having these lights! I’ve driven that road many times and forgot about them (or I wouldve added them in here as a comparison)!

      So I was told its 2 lanes in from 42N. Then 2 lanes from 76E?
      Thanks for all of your comments here and on facebook! Very informative.

  2. Are there plans in the future (hopefully THE near future) of having a 295sb exit ramp onto 42sb??
    With all this construction, it would be ideal.

  3. My apologies, I mean 295nb to 42sb .. if an access will be built instead of the stupid route of going to Market St exit to make a uturn to go south?

  4. With the Traffic Light situation, I feel that because of their purpose, why not have simply used Lane Indicator Lights like every other tunnel or bridge? Green arrow means Thru, Red X means closed! If all the lanes are X, probably means DO NOT ENTER. This is what people already know. Maybe my thinking is flawed. I just feel the lights are awkward and could cause confusion but maybe I’ll have to see it for myself.

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