Corrections or additions?
These articles by Barbara Fox were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on
September 23, 1998. All rights reserved.
Beyond the Bottlenecks: Light? Or Traffic Lights?
If the Department of Transportation had followed its
first plan, construction on the Millstone Bypass would have started
last spring. Now the groundbreaking is at least 18 months away, in
the spring of 2000. But the DOT claims optimism for the prognosis
of the controversial bypass, which would eliminate traffic signals
at Harrison, Fisher Place, and Washington Road.
"I would not characterize the bypass project as being put on the
back burner," says John Dourgarian, DOT spokesperson. "We
are actively trying to address the community concerns. There are no
significant design changes at this point."
The Millstone Bypass is just one of the half-dozen measures that would
alleviate traffic on Route 1 that is considerably heavier than last
year. Other projects in the pipeline:
1 corridor. Originally targeted for completion last month, this
work is now due to be completed in October. Conti Enterprises has
the $27 million two-year contract for the Intelligent Transportation
System, the 29-mile segment of Route 1 from Trenton to Edison.
The strategy is to take the existing highway and make it smarter,
therefore faster, by using pavement sensors, computers, cameras, and
electronic signs. The pavement will "know" when traffic comes
to a standstill and flash a warning to the computer. In the event
that the accident backs up for miles, the operator can override the
computer and put in more green time.
Fiber optic lines are being installed to computerize traffic signals
and connect them with a DOT traffic operations center. In addition,
14 traffic surveillance cameras are being mounted on cement poles.
These cameras will be able to look — pan, tilt, and zoom —
at key intersections, to notify the traffic operations center when
there is an accident or traffic slows because someone has broken down.
Two permanent overhead "variable message" signboards will
be installed to alert drivers to traffic conditions.
All this will be controlled by a traffic operation center in Mount
Laurel, which can also instantly alert drivers via radio reports.
It will go into operation after six months of testing and planners
believe it will cut congestion by 10 to 20 percent. If so, U.S. 1’s
1999 survey may reflect that.
on this mammoth project was supposed to begin in 1997 but is now
for after the year 2000. The township hired an expert to think up
a better design and fight the DOT plan, and the current plan is a
hybrid of both. The $42 million three-year project would reorganize
the interchange between routes 1, 130, and 171 (Georges Road).
"We are working with the community on property impacts — a
diner, a gas station, a bowling alley, and an apartment complex are
among the complex property issues," says Dourgarian. The proposal
called for the widening of Route 1 to three lanes (with full-sized
shoulders and auxiliary lanes) in each direction, the elimination
of the signals at the Route 1/130/Georges Road intersection, and the
installation of a grade separated overpass there.
<B>Route 92 from Route 1 to Exit 8A. This
project is also on hold, waiting for EPA approval of a revised
plan. The toll road would begin at a cloverleaf just north of Ridge
Road, where the New Jersey Turnpike Authority already owns the
occupied by Princeton Alliance Church. It would continue to a limited
cloverleaf at Perrine Road.
As a highway concept, Route 92 predates the Turnpike. In 1938 the
New Jersey Legislature designated a state road connecting Route 33
in Hightstown to Route 206 in Princeton. World War II followed and
the construction of the New Jersey Turnpike during the ’50s pre-empted
the concept until 1966, when it was revived again as a
freeway. But little happened until the late ’80s, when the diagram
of a depressed freeway connecting the New Jersey Turnpike at Exit
8A with Route 206 in Princeton, with a separate Hightstown bypass
connecting the Turnpike with Route 571, took shape.
In the early ’90s, the Department of Transportation, unwilling to
shell out the $300 million for the roadway, abdicated responsibility
to the Turnpike Authority, which redesigned a slightly shorter toll
road that ended at Route 27. By last year the section from Route 1
to Route 27 was lopped off as well.
After the design for a section of the 6.6 mile highway was elevated
to reduce the impact from 33 to 18.4 acres of wetlands, the EPA agreed
to hold a new hearing. The fate of the highway now hangs in the
Opposing the plan is South Brunswick, which will accommodate nearly
95 percent of the roadway.
Route 92’s toll is scheduled to be 75 cents for cars, $2 per trucks.
The trucking costs have dropped, thanks to a regression analysis that
showed how much the NJTPA could charge before truckers rebelled and
drove the local roads instead.
Also in South Brunswick, a five to seven-year program is being
for Route 1. It would include construction of South Brunswick
elimination of some intersection, and overall widening to add a third
lane for the seven-mile stretch of Route 1 between Independence Way
and Finnegans Lane.
was promised to Raytheon when it commissioned its new building at
the Carnegie Center. The $15 million public/private partnership
involves $3 million each from West Windsor Township and Mercer County
with the rest of the money coming from DOT. Carnegie Center Associates
would manage the project and DOT would lay the steel.
The overpass was supposed to break ground in 1999 and finish by the
end of that year but has gotten bogged down by property acquisitions
and changes to access. "We will not be able to advertise the
before this year is out, and it is possible the project will
a delay," says DOT’s Dourgarian, "but we are doing everything
we can to keep on schedule."
The properties in question include Sunny Garden restaurant, Princeton
Car Wash, and the Mobil gas station, all of which would be affected
by the ramp needed for the overpass. The overpass would be physically
located over the area that now constitutes the Meadow Road
just south of the Carnegie Center and the MarketFair shopping center.
Yu-Lien Yen, owner of Sunny Garden restaurant, says his negotiations
with DOT have proved fruitless so far. "Their attitude is, I don’t
have direct access on Route 1 so they simply ignore me. They are not
willing to consider that it is important that my customer will have
to come in back of Farber Road," says Yen. "It is not right,
morally, to ignore me."
Yen says that before he built his restaurant on Farber Road, he was
told by both township and DOT officials that the Meadow Road overpass
had a low priority. "When I looked in the township file I saw
on the master plan it could be closed, but the township said it was
not planned. I asked several persons in the DOT, and they said it
was not in the near plan or future plan."
Easy access to Route 1 is key to both Sunny Garden’s banquet and
business, says Yen. Takeout customers choose the convenient pickup,
and banquet customers want site directions that are easy to explain.
Getting to his place by way of Emmons Drive would be inconvenient
and confusing, he says.
As part of this project, three sets of traffic signals
could be removed. The Meadow Road overpass would eliminate the signals
at Meadow Road. Depending on the way traffic then behaves with the
new overpass in place, the light at Nassau Park boulevard would be
Dianne Brake, executive director of the MSM Regional Council, says
that the Nassau Park signal was supposed to be only temporary because
it is so close to the Quakerbridge Road overpass. "You are not
supposed to have any lights that close to a $16 million investment
in taking out a light. If they make improvements to Meadow Road they
are supposed to take out the Nassau Park light."
Traffic congestion at Nassau Park would also be improved if it
with Canal Pointe Boulevard, says Brake. She lays Nassau Park’s fabled
traffic problems at the feet of West Windsor’s refusal to implement
this plan. "There should be a law that you can’t build shopping
centers with one way in and one way out," says Brake. "There
must be a dozen ways to get in and out of Quakerbridge Mall."
"Certain factions at Canal Pointe and elsewhere are going to have
to realize that Route 1 is not Main Street, West Windsor," she
says. "Canal Pointe Boulevard was put in as a service road, and
it’s an excellent, well-appointed facility. It should be extended
to serve local ratables, but there are factions that want to protect
Canal Pointe and instead have more curb cuts on Route 1 to access
development. That’s the wrong way to go."
The signal at Carnegie Center Boulevard would be taken out if a
road between Carnegie Center Boulevard and Meadow Road can be built
by the township or county, thus giving motorists coming from the south
two ways to enter Carnegie Center. Commuters coming from points north
would be able to access Carnegie Center from the recently completed
Alexander Road overpass or from the new Meadow Road overpass.
construction. It eliminates the turnpike traffic dumping into downtown
Hightstown by connecting Exit 8 and Route 33 to Route 571 at Old
Road. At that point Route 571 is four lanes all the way to Clarksville
The county wants to add a third and fourth lane on Route 571 from
West Windsor-Plainsboro High School at Clarksville Road to the
line. This stretch is now a two-lane road. At the railroad bridge
it would divide into two lanes for Route 571 and two lanes for the
"We’re seeing growth on Route 1," says Dourgarian,
what is obvious to many commuters. "No question that traffic is
going up." The question now is when the next round of improvements
will be complete.
Executive Jetport is preparing to lay blacktop on new
runways to open a $10 million facility, a full-service fixed base
operation serving the general aviation community.
A developer is negotiating with the county to build a 150-room Holiday
Eastwind Airlines, while still struggling financially, has bought
two new jet planes and has three more under contract, for a total
Three "connector" airlines have applied to fly out of the
airport, and the county is making plans to either renovate the current
terminal, build a new one, or both.
If traffic on the Route 1 highway is slowing down, the outlook for
air traffic is improving — Trenton-Mercer Airport hasn’t seen
so much activity in years.
Contrary to what some predicted, Tom Patterson, the owner of Executive
Jetport, has survived his pre-opening ordeal and hopes to cut the
ribbon in early November. Patterson is renovating the 80,000 square
foot hangars on the 27.5 acre property previously occupied by the
Naval Air Warfare Center (U.S. 1, September 10, 1997, and February
The 47-year-old Ewing native aims to rival Ronson Aviation, the
principal tenant for more than 20 years, in providing fuel and
turboprop aircraft maintenance, charters, avionics repair, and
sales. As a full service Fixed Base Operator (FBO) Patterson also
wants to offer maintenance for jet planes and commercial passenger
planes and 24-hour customs services (now available in New Jersey only
at Newark and Teterboro).
Patterson is not daunted by delays — he didn’t sign the lease
with the county until September 11. "We added a lot of
says Patterson. For instance, he was able to sign up Exxon as a
fuel provider. (Ronson Aviation, has a contract with Texaco.)
Many of the delays were due to red tape. "I did not anticipate
the bureaucracy," he admits. When the federal defense department
closes a site such as the Naval Air Warfare Center, homeless
have a right to ask for a building on the property.
The result is that two 5,000 square feet warehouse buildings have
been donated to Ewing Township, which in turn awarded HomeFront
the Exchange Club) a 30-year lease at nominal cost. The buildings
will be used to store furniture and, in the future, as office space.
"We finally have a permanent home," says Connie Mercer,
of HomeFront. "Tom Patterson has been wonderful in helping all
sides agree on the details."
Ronald E. Vaughn of the Vaughn Organization on Trenton’s Lafayette
Street was the architect. Leonard Scozzari of Scozzari Builders on
Lawrenceville Road was in charge of the design-build project, and
is preparing to lay blacktop now. Robert D’Auria, the controller,
is in charge of hiring, and soon the five-employee company will grow
to 30 workers, including office personnel, mechanics, and line service
personnel. "They are all waiting to give their two weeks
A graduate of Delaware Valley College in Doylestown,
Class of 1974, Patterson had sold his Trenton-based business, Casino
Events Marketing, and sunk that profit into Executive Jetport. His
51 percent ownership also represents lots of sweat equity; he hopes
to be in the black by the middle of the second year and pay for some
of the start-up costs with revenues. But that budget is based on a
30 percent increase in overall airport operations and calls for him
to gross $10 to $12 million in the first year, increasing to $27
by third year.
Patterson has put on hold plans for a new two-story, atrium-style
20,000 foot corporate headquarters and conference center until the
airport decides whether to accept the proposal for a Holiday Inn.
If that hotel were approved, it would be built on a 25-acre tract,
and it would include a conference center and an multiscreen movie
complex. Philip Vinch represents Jessup Road Associates in this
joint venture with Holiday Hospitality, owners of the Holiday Inn
trademark. These owners are enthusiastic about the site because it
would be only one mile from the 10,000-worker office complex planned
by Merrill Lynch.
Also bidding for development rights on one of three parcels are Dean
Lundahl, senior vice president of Advance Group of Bedminster, and
Tower Investments Inc. of Philadelphia. Lundahl was formerly partner
in charge at Linpro and then LCOR, which managed Enterprise Business
Park (on Morgan Lane) and Princeton Meadows, both in Plainsboro.
group is reportedly submitting a proposal for a 10-acre parcel, two
buildings totaling 100,000 square feet for offices or light
No information was available on what plans Tower Investments might
have for which parcel.
"None of the developments are set in stone," says Sharon
county spokesperson. "The hotel proposal is one of three bids
that were presented for the first time to a staff committee."
As for the proposed airlines — more airlines at the airport would
suit Patterson just fine. The current tenant, Eastwind, is known as
a "destination" airline flying to three flights daily to
plus schedules to Greensboro, Washington/Dulles, and Orlando. Eastwind
has deep-pocketed owners (UM Holdings Ltd. in Haddonfield) and is
still struggling after three years. For the first half of 1998 it
had revenues of $12.7 million but reported losses of $5.6 million.
If either of the two prospective connector airlines — Business
Express and Shuttle America — competed with Eastwind on
flights, that might actually improve Eastwind’s business, because
travel agents like to be able to offer alternative flights. If you
park your car at Trenton-Mercer and miss your flight home, you don’t
want to have to wait four or five hours for the next one.
Also Eastwind flies jets (Boeing 737-700s and 737-200s), but the other
airlines would offer turboprop flights. Business Express now feeds
to Northwest, American, and Delta Airlines and goes to east coast
destinations such as Philadelphia, New York, and Washington. In
to Boston, Connecticut-based Shuttle America would go to Rochester,
Albany, Syracuse, the Washington/Baltimore area (Dulles and BWI) and
Providence, Rhode Island. The third potential airline has not been
"The FAA suggested we might want to consider building a new
to accommodate today’s standards — more modern and more
says Lauchaire. "We are making those decisions right now."
Box 7794, West Trenton 08628. 609-883-2146; fax, 609-883-5627. E-mail:
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