To the Editor: Mayors Recommend Restarting Bypass
The following is a letter to N.J Department of Transportation Commissioner Stephen Dilts concerning restoration of the Penns Neck Bypass Project to the state’s transportation priority list, in light of the possibility of transportation infrastructure money from the Federal Stimulus Package, as well as the resolution of the West Windsor redevelopment plans.
Dear Commissioner Dilts:
As mayors representing the central New Jersey Route 1 Corridor we request that the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) restore the Penns Neck Bypass Project, which includes Route 1 improvements at Route 571 and Harrison Street and Vaughn Drive Connector, to a high priority status. We urge NJDOT to honor the direction given by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) to include the Penns Neck Bypass Project with the Vaughn Drive Connector in the regionally agreed upon list of priority transportation projects to receive federal funding.
The Penns Neck project with frontage roads, an overpass near Harrison Street, an elevated Washington Road over Route 1, and the elimination of all traffic lights would transform the portion of Route 1 between Alexander Road and Harrison Street from a highly congested, dangerous section of road to a safe, free-flowing thoroughfare.
The Vaughn Drive Connector project provides a road at the Princeton Junction Train station to facilitate east/west traffic through Princeton Junction to Route 1. Even though all the improvements would occur in West Windsor, all of the Route 1 Corridor mayors, highly motivated by economic development and health and safety reasons, express their steadfast support of the Penns Neck Improvements to eliminate the unacceptable vehicular paralysis on this portion of Route 1 that occurs during morning and evening rush hours, as well as on the east/west feeder roads onto Route 1, particularly Harrison Street, Washington Road and Scudders Mill Road.
These projects were removed from the regional list two years ago, because, according to West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh, NJDOT indicated that West Windsor had to finalize its train station redevelopment plan before the road could be made an NJDOT priority. This requirement has been met. The plan is being finalized — a draft of the plan passed West Windsor Township Council and the Planning Board and the final version is scheduled for a final vote by Township Council in early March.
The design of the Penns Neck Bypass Project and Vaughn Drive Connector emerged in 2004 after a two-year community planning process and a completed Environmental Impact Statement that reflected input from all the stakeholders in the region who worked out their differences to come up with a functional and widely acclaimed road reconstruction plan.
However, all of the undersigned mayors emphasize that the action being endorsed should not jeopardize other projects, especially the widening of Route 1 in South Brunswick. Even if the Penns Neck Improvements become a priority, it would be several years before a completed roadway would be functioning.
Therefore, the mayors conclude that the region still must obtain in the very near future a modest improvement on Harrison Street and Route 1, i.e., a turning lane to help alleviate the long rush-hour backups at Harrison. This is crucial in light of the University Medical Center at Princeton moving in 2011 to Route 1 in Plainsboro between Plainsboro Road and Scudders Mill Road.
Peter Cantu, Plainsboro
Pam Mount, Lawrence