State officials have agreed to a request from Brick Township to prohibit left turns entering and exiting the township’s newest Wawa store on Route 88, a state highway.
Since the store opened earlier this month, residents and township officials have complained that Route 88 – in the already-busy area of Jack Martin Boulevard – has turned into a major bottleneck since drivers cannot get by other vehicles making a left turn into the store. Making matters worse, vehicles turning left onto Route 88 from the store have created traffic issues within the parking lot and have led to close calls on the highway. Mayor John Ducey said the township previously asked to have left turns prohibited by the state Department of Transportation, but they were ultimately allowed. Because the Wawa property is located on a state highway, jurisdiction over traffic patterns falls to the NJDOT.
Following a new round of requests by officials, local media coverage and a flurry of phone calls from residents, the state agency took a second look at the new development along the highway.
“The DOT asked [township] council the pass a resolution to ban lefts in and out of Route 88,” said Ducey, explaining that the resolution will allow the state to formally update its records to reflect the prohibition of left turns. The township will also be able to place signage indicating the ban on left turns, and police will be able to enforce the regulation.
The township council passed the resolution confirming the prohibition to the state just before the Thanksgiving holiday.
“I’d like to thank the DOT for being flexible and reversing their decision, and I want thank the council for voting for the resolution,” Ducey said.
Ultimately, the state made its decision following discussions with the township “regarding congestion caused by cars making a left turn from Route 88 into the Wawa,” NJDOT spokesperson Steve Schapiro confirmed. “We are working together to explore what can be done to alleviate the problem.”
Ducey theorized that state officials likely based their decision on testimony provided during the hearings that occurred while the Wawa was under consideration for planning approval that indicated the bulk of traffic would be using large driveways on the less-congested Jack Martin Boulevard to enter and exit the store rather than the small driveways on the state highway.
“They listened to the testimony, and they heard, ‘everybody is going to use Jack Martin,'” said Ducey. “Well, people are going to make a left where they’re going to make a left – at the driveway – because it’s not illegal.”
Soon, as the signage will confirm, the left turn will indeed be illegal.
“Now, hopefully, everybody will begin using Jack Martin, the way it was designed,” Ducey said.