BY FRANK SCANDALE
SPECIAL TO NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
On the list of annoying and dangerous items to ban from New Jersey, jug handles rank near the bottom behind serious problems such as armed mosquitos, the brain-addling stench on the turnpike between Middlesex and Essex counties and toll booths.
But none of those bans came up for a vote last week as far as I can tell. Probably because those subjects all have paid lobbyists, Facebook pages and several relatives on the payroll.
This strikes me as another attempt to obfuscate from the real issues facing New Jerseyans. If every member of the legislature just focused on the top five issues facing our fine state, we might get something done. In this order, I’d like to see fixes for high property taxes, Sandy relief, failing schools, high unemployment and Mark Sanchez.
But no. Rather than passing a law that prevents Sanchez from running into his teammate’s butt - which likely could have been avoided had a jug handle been available, thus avoiding a rear-ending of his teammate - the poor jug handle took one to the chops last week when an Ocean County legislator’s bill somehow interested enough senators apparently just recovering from anesthesia to support the end of a New Jersey icon.
We see a lot of odd laws proposed in the state, laws for which we didn’t even know had offenses, but you had to think you were dreaming when you saw this headline: “Bill to Ban Jug handles.”
Why go after the jug handle? If we are going to nuke road oddities, what about the rotary? If you want to talk danger, try entering a Jersey rotary at rush hour when cars come at you like asteroids on HGH. You need fly eyes to take in the traffic volume without having a seizure.
If you get on the inside lane of a Jersey rotary at any hour besides 3 a.m., you stand a good chance of celebrating your birthday there.
Or how about just eliminating Route 1 altogether? Whose idea was that to create a road so fearsome , so loathsome and so bleak that when there was not an accident on the strip from Elizabeth to Linden during my days covering Union County for The Daily Journal, THAT’S when we wrote a story.
With a steady diet of potholes that doubled as quarries at night and semis as long as freight trains barreling down on a whimpering yellow light, the danger posed to anyone within a half mile of that action made the jug handle look like a Club Med.
One of the stated reasons for banning them – and since we have 600 installed over 50 years you’d figure SOMEBODY really likes them – is that they confuse some out-of-staters.
That’s like saying let’s get rid of large sodas because some people don’t know how to stop at 12 ounces . Oh, wait, never mind.
With the exception of a few ex-stunt drivers , three cab drivers from Brooklyn and an Iraq war tank commander, every out-of-stater drives like they have never seen a road before, much less a jug handle. For anyone who has ever been behind a New York license plate on Route 17 in Bergen County on a Saturday, you know the meaning of road terror. Instead of bringing back the HOV lanes, let’s have an out-of-state lane that sits, say, and 20 feet under ground. Or is open only on Sundays.
Another well-meaning jug handle hater asked why have them in NJ when they don’t have them in the rest of the country. Seriously? There are more jug handles than politicians around the country . You have to get out more, man. Wikipedia notes that jug handles are used heavily in about 15 states, albeit our Garden State gets the nod for using them most frequently. Maybe that’s because we have 4 billion cars on the road for our 8 million residents, almost 6 million of who have a license. If we didn’t have a place for drivers to sort of pause before committing their next homicidal act on the road, we’d look like Boston on a Friday night, or anywhere in Italy anytime of day.
Speaking of Italy, I don’t recall seeing a jug handle on honeymoon, but it had a rotary every 50 feet. At one of the circles in Como, my wife are I were doing 180 kilometers per hour trying to find the exit out to get to our hotel nearby. Any slower and the lorries would have crushed us like grapes. Any faster and the centrifugal force would have slung us into Switzerland. I’m yelling at her to read the signs. She’s telling me to slow down because the G -force was crushing her eyelids shut.
I’ve never experienced any of those feelings pulling to the right on a jug handle in Brick Township looking for a left turn.
Let’s not be hasty on a full Senate vote on the jug handle. Let’s wait until around the time the Jets are in the Super Bowl. That should give us time to fix a couple of issues.