Driving to work southbound down Mapleton Road in Kingston a few mornings ago, I came upon a construction squeeze in the road. Nothing serious, I foresaw only a brief delay on the lightly traveled road. But once I spied the reason for the work zone itself, my heart fairly soared and all I could think to do was belt out, “Ding dong, the witch is dead!” The speed bumps on Mapleton Road were being removed.
Speed bumps is probably not the appropriate term for those Evil Things, as the township itself professed them to be “rumble strips” on signs posted on either side of the infected zone. They had been four strips of cobblestones set in the macadam, three on the northbound side of the road, one gracing the other. But neither term was ultimately correct.
The four double-strips of pavers were too low to be proper speed bumps. (Wanna experience true speed bumps? Cruise down Princeton Avenue in Montgomery!) Although initially suspected to be such when first installed, they hardly slowed anyone down making the commute home from Forrestal Village to 27 and beyond. But styled as “rumble strips” by the Powers That Be, they were rather gnarly ones at best. Rumble strips are those subtle yet awakening affairs that guard tollbooths along the Parkway: “Yo, dude, ease off the gas and reach for the quarters.” The Mapleton bricks were jar-inducing, teeth-rattling numbers that spilled coffee and shook hubcaps off cars. (Umm, hubcaps? Sorry, showing my age.)
Anyway, Mapleton commuters quickly assessed the Bumps early on and decided that the best course of action to avoid CD skips in their cars was to swerve around the beasts, aiming at least one tire well onto the shoulder or across the double yellow line. It was not uncommon to observe several cars in front of me swing all the way into the oncoming lane three times before reaching the Ridge Road intersection. To say that this created a farcically dangerous situation would be an understatement.
The Township of South Brunswick finally came to its senses and determined that there had never been a situation along Mapleton that required grabbing the attention of drivers via automatic seat massagers, and quietly removed the pretty cobblestone bricks. My commute along that stretch has been literally a smooth one in the last few days, and I feel a bit more secure knowing that the only thing that will cause oncoming drivers to play chicken with me in the future will be one of the gazillion deer that inhabit our wooded homeland. Reason and common sense have prevailed. Now if someone would only address that hair-raising intersection where Fackler Road spills out onto 206, I’d feel much better.