NJDOT Proposes Speed Limit Changes to RT31 in Hopewell and Pennington

Speed limit changes on Route 31 between the Pennington Circle and Mercer County Route 654 have been proposed by New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT). By way of letter dated April 22, 2016, NJDOT requested concurrence resolutions from both Hopewell Township and Pennington Borough indicating that the municipalities agree with the proposed changes.

“NJDOT works with communities on any speed limit change request the department receives. After receiving a formal request from the community, a traffic study is conducted,” explained Steve Schapiro, Communications Director of NJDOT, when reached for comment. “The engineering study would take into consideration such factors as operating speeds of free-flowing traffic, crash data, roadway geometry, development along the road, parking, and pedestrian traffic. Based on the speed limit request and the traffic study findings, NJDOT determines what is suitable for the community and safe for the motorists.”

In order to develop its recommendation, NJDOT conducted a traffic study this spring, and indicates that it is working with Hopewell and Pennington on the issue.

Specifically, NJDOT recommends the following specific speed limits:

  • Zone 1: 45 MPH between the Ewing Township-Hopewell Township corporate line (Bull Run Road) and Washington Crossing/Pennington Road-Blackwell Road (CR 546) (approximate mileposts 4.71 to 6.09)
  • Zone 2: 40 MPH between Washington Crossing/Pennington Road-Blackwell Road (CR 546) to southerly Hopewell Township-Pennington Borough corporate line (approximate mileposts 6.09 to 6.73)
  • Zone 3: 45 MPH between the southerly Hopewell Township-Pennington Borough corporate line and 2000 feet north of the Conrail Reading Railroad underpass (approximate mileposts 6.73 to 7.40)
  • Zone 4: 35 MPH between 2000 feet north of the Conrail Reading Railroad underpass and Franklin Avenue (approximate 7.40 to 8.02)
  • Zone 5: 40 MPH between Franklin Avenue and Woodsville Road (County Road 612) – East Amwell Township (Hunterdon County) corporate line (County Road 518) (approximate mileposts 10.19 to 12.27)

In general, New Jersey law sets the speed limit unless otherwise posted as 25 mph in school zones, business, or residential districts; 35 mph in certain low density business and residential districts; 50 mph on all other roadways; 55 mph on certain state highways (as posted) and all interstates; and 65 mph on certain state highways (as posted), according to NJDOT. New Jersey law accepts the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which includes posted speed limits for state and local roads. MUTCD is the nationwide standard of guidelines which state and local roads follow.

After consulting with the Hopewell Township Police Department, Pennington Borough Police Department and Pennington Borough, Hopewell Township passed a “Resolution of Concurrence” on June 13, 2016 rejecting the proposed changes and outlining its own recommendation for speed limit changes.

The following chart illustrates the differences between recommended speeds:

route 31 speed limits

“If a mutually agreeable solution can be reached, it will be implemented, otherwise the speed limit will remain unchanged,” said Schapiro.

Pennington Borough Council voted “no” on the NJDOT proposal and Borough representatives indicate that the Council will consider a resolution that follows the form of the Hopewell Township resolution that would establish a 40 mph throughout all zones at the Council meeting on Wednesday July 6th at 7pm at 30 N Main Street, Pennington, NJ.

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  1. Mary, could you list the current speed limits for those five stretches? And not sure exactly where these mileposts are, but Ex: Isn’t it currently 35 mph in front of the market, and at the Delaware intersection where the kids cross? And the DOT seems to be recommending that it stay 35, but we are recommending raising it to 40 there? And then north of Franklin, the DOT recommends 40, but we are recommending raising it to 45? I completely missed any meetings on this. Do you know the rationale for these numbers? I understand a desire for consistency and not having the limit change every couple hundred yards, but why not recommend, say, 40 coming from the South, then 35 through the market/Franklin area, and then back to 40 at some point and continue 40 north to the County line? (One area of a lower 35 limit within a longer 40 mph stretch.) Am I reading this incorrectly? Thanks!

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