We recently noticed a new traffic pattern in downtown Princeton -- at the Nassau Street/Washington Road/Vandeventer Avenue traffic signal.

So we actually just found out that it’s part of a two-week test of a new traffic light from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT). The testing started on Monday, June 10 and will run through Friday, June 21.

The new “exclusive pedestrian phase” pattern, which is known commonly as a “pedestrian scramble” means that the light can stop traffic in all directions for approximately 39 seconds, allowing pedestrians to cross in ANY direction (even diagonally).

This will occur every 90 to 132 seconds if the pedestrian button is pushed. By the way, no right turns are currently allowed on red.

During the exclusive pedestrian phase, ALL traffic will have a red light and turning on red will remain prohibited.

The study is being done at the request of Princeton officials. Our sister station, New Jersey 101.5 reports that a Princeton woman was struck and killed by a cement truck as she crossed the intersection about a year and a half ago.

Officials from the DOT told Townsquare Media that they’re always looking to improve safety (for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians).  

In fact, one advantage of the pedestrian phase “is that all traffic is stopped, no turns are allowed and that eliminates the conflict of turning vehicles with pedestrians, so it gives pedestrians a safer way to be crossing the street,” DOT spokesman Steve Schapiro told NJ 101.5.

One of the disadvantages is that “you’re increasing the number of phases at the intersection, so that’s going to create a longer wait time,” Schapiro said.

After the trial period ends, the DOT will review what happened before making any permanent decisions about the traffic pattern.

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