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Between the Lines

Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on April 19, 2000. All rights reserved.

Sometime next month the state Department of Transportation

is expected to release the results of its environmental assessment

of the proposed Millstone Bypass. Since proposal seems that much closer

to reality, the time seems right to summarize our previously stated

opinions on this roadway.

First the facts: The new highway would divert traffic from Route 571

near Ellsworth’s, take it over the railroad tracks, and lead it along

Sarnoff Center grounds to a new grade-separated overpass near the

present location of the Harrison Street intersection. The road, four

lanes and 100 feet wide, would then roughly follow the Delaware and

Raritan Canal from Harrison Street to Washington Road, allowing traffic

to enter and exit at Harrison Street and Washington Road. According

to the most recent map we have seen from the DOT, Washington Road

would remain open from Faculty Road to Route 1, with right turns allowed

onto and from Route 1 South. But the traffic lights at Washington

Road, Fisher Place, and Harrison Street would all be eliminated under

this plan — in order to get from one side of Route 1 to the other

motorists would have to use the new overpass or drive down to Alexander


The present plan has the support of West Windsor Township, Princeton

University, and the Regional Planning Partnership (the old MSM). It

is opposed by Princeton Borough Council and some Princeton residents,

who have formed a committee to fight it and are contemplating legal

action to try to stop it.

We like 75 percent of the Bypass plan and think that the other

25 percent could be remedied in a way that would benefit many of the

interested parties. Removing the three traffic lights is a major improvement

not just for Route 1 but for motorists throughout the region. Our

annual traffic surveys since 1987 have shown that traffic on Route

1 has not gotten steadily worse — some years it has actually improved

despite greater concentrations of commuters in the region, and that

good news is due to the overpasses and additional lanes that already

have been added to the highway. The Millstone Bypass will continue

this progress.

Keeping Washington Road open out to the highway from the heart of

Princeton Borough is also good news. Anyone who commutes into Princeton

can tell you what happens when either Washington or Harrison or Alexander

is closed off — it’s a traffic nightmare.

Connecting the bypass to Washington Road by means of a four-lane highway

hugging the Delaware and Raritan Canal, its towpath, and Carnegie

Lake does not make sense. Our suggestion: realign that part of the

bypass so that it runs parallel and near to Route 1 itself. Let it

be a service road for gas stations, convenience stores, and other

roadside amenities that are still in short supply along the highway.

Last Saturday, at the Sandra Starr Foundation conference on suburban-urban

alliances, the keynote speaker was the dean of the University of Miami

architecture school and the founder of the "new urbanism,"

Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. The architect also is a Princeton alumna,

a member of the university’s board of trustees, and head of the trustee

committee on grounds and buildings. Plater-Zyberk spoke eloquently

against sprawl and in favor of planned based on informed decisions

about the big picture affecting a region. We can only hope that Princeton

University, which would have to play a major role in any design change

of the Millstone Bypass, will listen to its own messenger.


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Huber, Hunt, Nichols Inc., 410 Scotch Road, Box

997, Pennington 08534. Tim Vaughn, project director. 609-818-2000;

fax, 609-818-2050. Home page:

The construction company managing the Merrill Lynch project has its

national headquarters in Indianapolis, not Atlanta, as stated on April

12. The regional office is in Branchburg (908-725-3373).

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