If you live or work in Central Jersey, transportation officials are urging you to pay extra attention on Route 1 southbound in Mercer County, right before the intersection of Route 295.

A major safety enhancement project is underway next to the Mercer Mall and Nassau Park Pavilion. In the meantime, it’s causing additional dangers for drivers.

“It’ll be widening to alleviate some of the backup traffic to the mall entrance and we’ll also be doing curbing, striping, utilities and drainage work,” said Mairin Bellack,a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation. “We’ll also be doing resurfacing and that will improve Route 1 safety and performance.”

She pointed out this is a heavily traveled area, “so in order to alleviate some of that heavy congestion, we try to widen the road and make sure that vehicles are safer going off to the exits.”

As the project moves forward there are numerous orange-and-white safety barrels outlining Route 1 exits and entrances. But you may wonder why you never see anybody working there.

Bellack explained that the closures are “ from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., so we try to do it on off-peak hours.”

Even though the work is being done at night when the road is less crowded, Bellack advises drivers to be extremely careful as they enter and exit the highway, weaving through a maze of safety barrels.

“It’s always important to be conscious of what you’re doing and to keep distractions out of the vehicle. Keep the phone down, keep your eyes on the road.”

The project is anticipated to be completed in September 2020.

Once phase one of the $9.7 million project is completed on Route 1 South, similar work will begin on the north side of the highway.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.