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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
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.
997, Pennington 08534. Tim Vaughn, project director. 609-818-2000;
fax, 609-818-2050. Home page: www.huberhuntnichols.com.
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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