Recent construction on Route 42 in New Jersey has added an "express lane" to the southbound lanes. After an occurrence yesterday, I am close to figuring out how to contact the commission in charge of planning this travesty and asking them to remove the express lane before somebody gets killed (like me.)
I was driving home like normal, heading southbound on Rt. 42 and approaching the express lane. Like any highway configuration in south Jersey, the 42/I-676/I-295 interchange cannot be described but in words that are not suitable for a family blog. Idiotic might be an understatement. After crossing from Pennsylvania on the Walt Whitman Bridge, Rt. 42 is met by lanes from Rt. 130 and I-676. As the route progresses toward I-295, drivers really need to plan ahead. The exit for I-295 south is the left hand lane of Rt. 42, and traffic headed for I-295 north needs to get in the right hand lane of Rt.42. The express lane starts just before the I-295 south exit, so the two left lanes are split off from the rest of the highway by a cement divider. I assume that the purpose for the express lane is to save drivers a few seconds of driving by not having to worry about drivers who are not capable of reading road signs and planning ahead by getting in the proper exit lane ahead of time. I have already been stuck in traffic backed up to the I-95 exit to the Walt Whitman Bridge because somebody plowed into the safety rail before the cement divider for the express lane.
Yesterday, as I was approaching the express lane, I saw a Dodge Caravan style mini-van jam the brakes on right in the middle of the highway just at the express lane. As I realized that they weren't joking or slowing down for some perceived traffic impediment, I hit my brakes hard lest I plow into them. I saw a large Ford pickup truck jam it's brakes in my rearview mirror. The minivan in front of me came to a complete stop as cars began flying around the Ford behind me until the lane I was in started having to stop. I hit my horn twice "beep, beep" as a little "Uhm, can we start moving? Stopping in the middle of a highway, especially in New Jersey, is like very dangerous or something." Then the minivan's backup lights came on and the van started backing up almost right into me. Apparently the driver couldn't read the road signs for the past two or so miles and came to a complete stop with the front of his or her car past the guardrail, making it impossible to change lanes. Now the driver was backing up apparently in the hopes of backing up far enough to somehow get over a lane with oncoming traffic to make whatever exit he or she needed. As I saw the van's bumper approaching the front of my Sedona, I decided I wasn't going to take it anymore. I NEVER use my horn, but in this case I placed my fist on the horn and held it down until I saw the minivan stop and the backup lights go off.
Now that the driver had nowhere to go, you might expect forward motion, but this driver sat for several more seconds. I was about to roll down my window and scream something like "If you're too stupid to read road signs, get off at the next exit and turn around!" It was the most charitable thing I could think of to say at that moment. Finally, the minivan started moving forward, so I could and the traffic now stopped behind me could as well. As soon as we cleared the express lanes, I changed lanes and flew around that minivan. I always wonder, is it smarter to have a clueless driver in front of you where you can see them, or behind you so you can get away from them?
If anybody from whatever commision that is in charge of the Route 42 construction is reading this, please get rid of that express lane before you kill somebody!