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Author Topic: Request: history of "rotary" junctions in the northeast  (Read 479 times)

jakeroot

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Request: history of "rotary" junctions in the northeast
« on: March 07, 2020, 07:04:17 PM »

Hi all,

I'm writing a paper on roundabouts, and was curious if anyone had seen or read any literature (academic, preferably) on the rotaries built in the northeast during the 20th century? A webpage is absolutely great too, or a DOT document. I don't really care! Anything is great.

It's easy to find stuff on older traffic circles, and modern roundabout data is everywhere, but Mass-style rotary info seems hard to find.

I'm not talking about traffic circles like Dupont Circle or Columbus Circle, where entries are generally right-angle and stop lights or stop signs are more common. I was looking more into the UK-roundabout-esque junctions that are most common in New Jersey and Massachusetts, amongst other places. Mass calls them rotaries, although New Jersey seems to prefer traffic circle (although they more closely resemble the Mass-style rotaries than junctions like Columbus Circle, IMO).

Some examples of intersections I have in mind include the former Marlton Circle, or the large rotary junction along US-1 at Squire Road north of Boston (the northern end of the Northeast Expressway).

Thanks for any help!
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J3ebrules

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Re: Request: history of "rotary" junctions in the northeast
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2020, 08:20:26 PM »

I know that the first one in the country was the so-called (and still-called) Airport Circle in Pennsauken, NJ at US 130. I can probably find some info on that - I found quite a wealth when investigating the NJ Good Roads movement and then later when I was learning about the long-gone Camden Central Airport that gave the Circle and surrounding street names (Airport Highway, for instance) their names.
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J3ebrules

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kevinb1994

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Re: Request: history of "rotary" junctions in the northeast
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2020, 08:51:08 PM »

NJ has always been a forerunner in highway projects and improvements and (of course) traffic because of the state being tapped like a barrel at its two ends (with apologies to Ben Franklin). The jughandle, cloverleaf interchange, and jersey barrier come to mind. So does the traffic light mast arm style used famously there.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2020, 08:54:11 PM by kevinb1994 »
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jakeroot

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Re: Request: history of "rotary" junctions in the northeast
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2020, 04:38:53 PM »

I know that the first one in the country was the so-called (and still-called) Airport Circle in Pennsauken, NJ at US 130. I can probably find some info on that - I found quite a wealth when investigating the NJ Good Roads movement and then later when I was learning about the long-gone Camden Central Airport that gave the Circle and surrounding street names (Airport Highway, for instance) their names.

Oh yeah! I remember reading about that one. So cool to see it today, all screwed up compared to how it used to look!

Check out this article and then jump down the google rabbit hole. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nj.com/traffic/2019/10/the-first-traffic-circle-to-ever-exist-was-right-here-in-nj-youre-welcome-america.html%3foutputType=amp

Thanks pal! I'll be sure to reference this circle in my paper.

NJ has always been a forerunner in highway projects and improvements and (of course) traffic because of the state being tapped like a barrel at its two ends (with apologies to Ben Franklin). The jughandle, cloverleaf interchange, and jersey barrier come to mind. So does the traffic light mast arm style used famously there.

I don't think I knew those things either; they would be an interesting inclusion in my paper as well.
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PHLBOS

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Re: Request: history of "rotary" junctions in the northeast
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2020, 05:32:56 PM »

the large rotary junction along US-1 at Squire Road north of Boston (the northern end of the Northeast Expressway).
That particular rotary has been around in its current form since the late 1950s when it was built as part of the Northeast Expressway project.

Prior to such & based on Historic Aerials for that area circa 1955; one sees a much smaller rotary intersection for then-MA C1 & MA 60.  Back then, such also abutted Revere Airport; which closed down circa 1961 and became the current Northgate Shopping Center.
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J3ebrules

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Re: Request: history of "rotary" junctions in the northeast
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2020, 07:44:59 PM »

It is so completely different today... with the US 30 flyover they plunked over top of it... such a hot mess. What I want to know is WHY this style of traffic control - wonder if you’ll uncover it in your paper! You should post it when you’re done (I was an English major so I’ll even edit it hahaha).

And, for anyone else poking their heads into this thread, here’s a lovely pic of the Airport Circle circa 1929, belonging to the NJ State Highway Dept (now, the NJDOT), and reposted by Phil Cohen at dvrbs.com:



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bob7374

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Re: Request: history of "rotary" junctions in the northeast
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2020, 10:22:24 PM »

The rotary on MA 3A at Hingham Harbor was built in 1932 as part of the construction of a bypass road from Hingham to Scituate that was named Chief Justice Cushing Highway. Seems critics have been trying to remove it since then, most recently as part of an upcoming MA 3A reconstruction project that is to start in 2024. The state decided though only to modify the rotary as part of the project by reducing its size slightly and adding lane striping and more signage.

jeffandnicole

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Re: Request: history of "rotary" junctions in the northeast
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2020, 10:28:30 PM »

The Marlton Circle you remember, with the NJ 73 cut thru, was a modification from its original full circle design.

There are others with this design, such as US 1 at Washington Rd and the newest one: in Ponoma near the AC Airport.

The Airport Circle is basically a name that will never die, even though it definitely doesn't function as a circle anymore. But the history of the circle and its modifications over the years is interesting. And speaking of how NJDOT holds onto circle names long after they've been eliminated, https://www.511nj.org/camera , then use the dropdown menu for US 30 and find the Collingswood Circle Camera. Despite the name, it's been a regular 4 leg intersection since around 2013!

Here's one link I found...I'll see if I can come across more NJDOT sources tomorrow...

https://m.facebook.com/njshpo/posts/1737526223142286

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Roadrunner75

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Re: Request: history of "rotary" junctions in the northeast
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2020, 11:21:58 PM »

The Airport Circle is basically a name that will never die, even though it definitely doesn't function as a circle anymore.
I remember the good ol' days when it actually still had a circle in the middle (but obviously well after the flyover was put in) before they ruined the fun and put the signals in.  I grew up hearing people speak of it with dread.

A circle that really needs to go is the Allenwood Circle on Route 34 in Wall Township.  Route 34 has the defacto right-of-way, and traffic barely slows down going through it.  With no lane markings going through the circle, drivers frequently fail to hold their lane, and sudden backups result frequently from left turn movements with minimal stacking room.  I've been practically forced into the grass on the circle a few times by other vehicles drifting over to the left.  The DOT "fixed" the Collingwood circle (not be confused with the Collingswood circle referenced above) a few miles to the north with roundabout "yield on entry", but have left this one alone on a major shore traffic route.
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J3ebrules

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Re: Request: history of "rotary" junctions in the northeast
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2020, 12:53:12 AM »

The Airport Circle is basically a name that will never die, even though it definitely doesn't function as a circle anymore.
I remember the good ol' days when it actually still had a circle in the middle (but obviously well after the flyover was put in) before they ruined the fun and put the signals in.  I grew up hearing people speak of it with dread.

You don’t think it still qualifies as a circle? I’d consider it a modified circle, but still a circle for the US 130 and NJ-38/70 portion.
Edit: Oh wait, you mean that it just didn’t have lights, but was otherwise the same? Oh holy God, I can understand the dread!! You had to randomly pop into that mess without being able to see around the bend because of the mound they piled around the flyover? Ok, that sounds horrifying.

And that’s so funny to hear about the Collingswood circle - I only moved here to Collingswood about five years ago - after it was eliminated. I always heard it referenced and was super confused which intersection they meant. I am starting to hear more locals calling it the “former” Colls circle, but that’s probably others in my age group moving into town.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2020, 12:58:52 AM by J3ebrules »
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Request: history of "rotary" junctions in the northeast
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2020, 04:56:50 AM »

The Airport Circle is basically a name that will never die, even though it definitely doesn't function as a circle anymore.
I remember the good ol' days when it actually still had a circle in the middle (but obviously well after the flyover was put in) before they ruined the fun and put the signals in.  I grew up hearing people speak of it with dread.

You don’t think it still qualifies as a circle? I’d consider it a modified circle, but still a circle for the US 130 and NJ-38/70 portion.
Edit: Oh wait, you mean that it just didn’t have lights, but was otherwise the same? Oh holy God, I can understand the dread!! You had to randomly pop into that mess without being able to see around the bend because of the mound they piled around the flyover? Ok, that sounds horrifying.

The best way to describe it: Go to www.historicaerials.com.  Get to the area around the Airport Circle.  View any camera image from 1995 - now. Then click on the camera image for 1951 - 1981, and you'll see how there was a much truer circle during that era, but with the flyover bridges.  To see it without the overpasses, you'll need to click on an image from 1931 - 1940!
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jakeroot

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Re: Request: history of "rotary" junctions in the northeast
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2020, 02:44:09 PM »

the large rotary junction along US-1 at Squire Road north of Boston (the northern end of the Northeast Expressway).
That particular rotary has been around in its current form since the late 1950s when it was built as part of the Northeast Expressway project.

Prior to such & based on Historic Aerials for that area circa 1955; one sees a much smaller rotary intersection for then-MA C1 & MA 60.  Back then, such also abutted Revere Airport; which closed down circa 1961 and became the current Northgate Shopping Center.

Has there been any discussion as to which state has more circles, Mass or NJ? And I mean historically. I'm sure NJ has fewer now.

Looking at the Boston area, and Massachusetts in general, it's almost a reflection of many of the British practices of the same era: large circles with flyovers, roundabouts with lots of swept entries, etc. It's hard to believe that Massachusetts engineers of the era weren't British themselves.

The Marlton Circle you remember, with the NJ 73 cut thru, was a modification from its original full circle design.

There are others with this design, such as US 1 at Washington Rd and the newest one: in Pomona near the AC Airport.

I definitely remember the Marlton Circle being a "hamburger" roundabout, but definitely don't recall there being any new ones (like that one near Pomona). That's pretty cool, and I think it's worth mentioning in my paper (casual reference, of course)
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