UPPER TOWNSHIP — Local officials said drivers heading south on Route 50 through Corbin City and Tuckahoe will be detoured around Head of the River on weekends this summer until Labor Day, part of an effort to curb heavy traffic as bridge and road work in the area continue.
But it’s not clear whether there is any easy answer for travelers heading to or from the shore using Route 49 and Route 50 this summer. Despite the detour, traffic was backed up for miles Memorial Day, which is considered the unofficial start of the tourism season. Routes to the Garden State Parkway were just as bad.
The state Department of Transportation announced last week that a southbound detour on Route 50 would be in place Memorial Day weekend. The Tuckahoe River bridge is down to one lane of alternating traffic because of construction. There is also road construction underway on Route 50 in Tuckahoe.
The DOT said in a news release that it has been working with Corbin City and Upper Township officials, who requested the southbound detour to help alleviate expected traffic backups and allow emergency vehicles better access to Corbin City. The township Office of Emergency Management said in a Code RED alert over the weekend that it expects the detours to remain in place on Saturdays and Sundays this summer.
“The NJDOT will be implementing a southbound-only detour of Route 50 traffic on weekends beginning on Memorial Day weekend and extending through the summer,” according to the alert, which was delivered to Upper Township residents. Township engineer Paul Dietrich said Monday he also expects the detour will be in place throughout summer weekends.
In an email, DOT spokesman Daniel Triana said the department is working with local officials to determine the most practical summer weekend detour hours for Route 50 southbound.
The southbound detour follows the path of a truck detour that has been in place since bridge construction started. Drivers traveling south on Route 50 toward the Tuckahoe River bridge are directed to bear right onto CR637/Cumberland Avenue. From Cumberland Avenue, drivers turn left onto CR666/Cape May Avenue, then left onto Route 49 eastbound. Drivers continue on Route 49 and turn right onto Route 50 southbound to head to the shore.
The detour will last from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 2 to 8 p.m. Sundays, according to the OEM. On July 4 weekend and Labor Day weekend, a detour will also be in place from 2 to 8 p.m. Mondays. The times of the detour could be adjusted during the summer as traffic dictates, according to the OEM.
Access to local roads will be maintained for local traffic, according to the DOT.
State Police were at some intersections in Corbin City and Tuckahoe this weekend. Troopers directed traffic at the intersection of Routes 49 and 50, Route 50 and Cumberland Avenue, and Route 49 and Head of the River.
Mayor Richard Palombo said he hopes state troopers will be at the intersections during busy weekends this summer, but it is a question of funding. He said the township’s OEM and other public safety agencies have worked to use Code RED this summer to alert motorists about the changing traffic patterns.
To sign up for Code RED alerts, visit uppertownship.com and click on the Code RED link on the left.
Palombo said the township is also preparing for a three-day closing of the Tuckahoe River bridge, which could occur in a couple of weeks. The bridge was originally scheduled to be closed the week of May 16, but delays have pushed that back, Palombo said.
“We’re not sure when it will occur but the bridge will be closed entirely during the evening hours for three days,” Palombo said. “All traffic will be detoured so the fire company and rescue squad are working to preposition equipment on the Corbin City side of the bridge in case of an emergency.”