High Tech Lights

Route 130 Interchange

Route 92

Meadow Road Overpass

Nassau Park Signal

Route 571

Traffic up at the Airport

Tom Patterson

Eastwind Plus One or Two?

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:

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High Tech Lights

High tech synchronizing of traffic signals along the

Princeton-Route

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.

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Route 130 Interchange

The Route 130-Route 1 interchange in North Brunswick.

Construction

on this mammoth project was supposed to begin in 1997 but is now

scheduled

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.

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Route 92

<B>Route 92 from Route 1 to Exit 8A. This

long-debated

project is also on hold, waiting for EPA approval of a revised

wetlands

plan. The toll road would begin at a cloverleaf just north of Ridge

Road, where the New Jersey Turnpike Authority already owns the

property

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

federally-financed

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

balance.

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

considered

for Route 1. It would include construction of South Brunswick

overpasses,

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.

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Meadow Road Overpass

The Meadow Road overpass. This overpass in West Windsor

was promised to Raytheon when it commissioned its new building at

the Carnegie Center. The $15 million public/private partnership

project

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

project

before this year is out, and it is possible the project will

experience

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

intersection,

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

takeout

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.

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Nassau Park Signal

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

removed.

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

connected

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

connector

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.

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Route 571

Route 571 improvements. The Hightstown bypass is now under

construction. It eliminates the turnpike traffic dumping into downtown

Hightstown by connecting Exit 8 and Route 33 to Route 571 at Old

Trenton

Road. At that point Route 571 is four lanes all the way to Clarksville

Road.

The county wants to add a third and fourth lane on Route 571 from

West Windsor-Plainsboro High School at Clarksville Road to the

railroad

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

Millstone bypass.

"We’re seeing growth on Route 1," says Dourgarian,

acknowledging

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.

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Traffic up at the Airport

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

Inn.

Eastwind Airlines, while still struggling financially, has bought

two new jet planes and has three more under contract, for a total

of five.

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

4, 1998).

The 47-year-old Ewing native aims to rival Ronson Aviation, the

airport’s

principal tenant for more than 20 years, in providing fuel and

services:

turboprop aircraft maintenance, charters, avionics repair, and

aircraft

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

extras,"

says Patterson. For instance, he was able to sign up Exxon as a

brand-name

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

organizations

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

(formerly

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,

director

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

notice,"

says Patterson.

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Tom Patterson

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

million

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

potential

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.

Lundahl’s

group is reportedly submitting a proposal for a 10-acre parcel, two

buildings totaling 100,000 square feet for offices or light

manufacturing.

No information was available on what plans Tower Investments might

have for which parcel.

"None of the developments are set in stone," says Sharon

Lauchaire,

county spokesperson. "The hotel proposal is one of three bids

that were presented for the first time to a staff committee."

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Eastwind Plus One or Two?

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

Boston,

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

Mercer-Boston

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

addition

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

named.

"The FAA suggested we might want to consider building a new

terminal

to accommodate today’s standards — more modern and more

sophisticated,"

says Lauchaire. "We are making those decisions right now."

Executive JetPort of New Jersey, 1440 Parkway

Avenue,

Box 7794, West Trenton 08628. 609-883-2146; fax, 609-883-5627. E-mail:

ejpnj1@msn.com.

Corrections or additions?


This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

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