Sunday, April 14, 2024

DOT Removes Confounding Signage; Decatur Street Truck Traffic Should be Less

Quiet Decatur Street in Columbia is not a truck route. Photo by Joe Phalon.

After several decades of confusion, the road signs in the Columbia section of Knowlton that have caused motorists to drive around in circles and invade local streets in search of Interstate 80 have come down. 

The state Department of Transportation moved the task to the top of their to-do list after the Ridge View Echo reported on the bone-jarring, teeth-rattling experiences of Decatur Street residents who’ve had to contend with lost big rigs rumbling through their neighborhood, which has only gotten worse with the proliferation of mega-warehouses in the area.

State Sen. Doug Steinhardt told Knowlton Mayor Debra Shipps that the NJDOT directed that the signs be removed immediately.

“According to DOT, a work order has been issued to remove the signs in question, and a request was made to expedite the work,” Steinhardt said. “The team will remove the signs and continue to work on a comprehensive redesign of the signage at the interchange. DOT says they will keep the county updated when the signs have been removed and when the redesign is complete.”

Confusing signage and convoluted traffic patterns for the exit and entrance ramps of Interstate 80 have resulted in errant eighteen-wheelers regularly rumbling down Decatur Street in Columbia and its adjacent streets on a regular basis.

And once in Columbia, it’s hard to get out, especially for trucks. The narrow residential streets don’t offer many ways to turn around with some drivers who stay on Decatur suddenly realizing they are on an escape-proof trajectory to Pennsylvania. 

While the most egregious, confusing, misdirecting signs are now history, the area is waiting for a long-term solution, said Steinhardt. 

Up and gone: One of the signs the New Jersey Department of Transportation removed. Photo by Joe Phalon.

Navigating the tangle of routes I-80, 46, 94, Pennsylvania’s 611 and numerous local roads along with several truck stops and travel plazas would challenge even Magellan, if he owned a car and found himself in Columbia in the 21st century.

But it can be done with the proper signage, and local officials are hopeful that now it will be completed sooner rather than later. 

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.