The Five-Minute Stoplight -- "Nation's Longest Traffic Light"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images / Scott Olson
    A traffic light controls the flow of vehicles and pedestrians April 20, 2005 near downtown Chicago, Illinois. According to a survey, the nation's traffic signals are mostly inefficient, leading to unnecessary delays, wasted fuel and increased air pollution as vehicles constantly stop and go.

    For all the traffic horror stories in New Jersey -- and there are many -- this one has to be right up there.

    In West Milford, N.J., it takes up to five minutes at a pair of stoplights to cross busy Route 23 at Clinton Road.

    Plenty of time to check a restaurant guide, look at a map or check your texts and tweets on your cell phone -- if that were legal.

    "They're not synchronized so you get caught in the next one and you have to wait," said driver Ed Logan, who for the past four years, has lost five minutes a day using the intersection (he goes home different way).

    That would be about 4800 minutes, 80 hours, or just over three days of his life (so far) waiting to cross the busy state highway that is separated by a median that is perhaps 50 yards wide and filled with trees and a restaurant.

    "I used to have black hair up to four years ago, but now it's white," said Logan standing at his accounting business near the intersection.

    The New York Times called it  "the nation's longest traffic light."

    But the NJ DOT has an official explanation.

    "We understand that motorists encounter lengthy wait times at this pair of signals, but the timing is necessary to avoid unacceptable levels of congestion on the heavily traveled Route 23," wrote Timothy Greely, DOT spokesman in an email.

    And in fact, when NBCNewYork drove by, there was plenty of traffic on Route 23, and stretches as long as ten minutes or more when there was no traffic whatsoever caught on the pair of Clinton Road lights.

    So, the waits will continue for the relative handful of motorists trying to cross Rte. 23.

    Uncomfortable for people like Mike Parchun of Rutherford who, when asked if he had that much time every day, responded, "I do, but my dog doesn't, he's going to have an accident if I don't get home soon."

    But then there was Nick Fabbricatore of Hoboken who admitted, "Sometimes I just enjoy the five minutes of peace I get to sit here and enjoy the day."

    Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY