Afternoon rush hour traffic on Route 1 is much, much worse, the worst it has been since 1998, before the elimination of the traffic lights at Meadow Road and Nassau Park.
When can we look forward to some help? Not much can be done about the slowdown at the merge point of Scudders Mill Road onto Route 1. The state department of transportation holds out a slim hope that the other chief bottleneck — the lights at Washington Road and Harrison Street — will get relief. That’s if the plans for the proposed Penns Neck Area Bypass really do go through.
Proponents and opponents of these proposals have been lying low for several years. Years of wrangling, followed by thousands of hours of roundtable negotiations, had produced a consensus of the various factions, and it produced the supposedly definitive Environmental Impact Statement for one set of solutions.
Content in (or frustrated by) the assurance that the state doesn’t have money to move very quickly anyway, neither side was saying much. Then the Sarnoff Corporation approached West Windsor Township with a plan to close the Fisher Place entrance to Route 1, make that a dead end street, and move that traffic light north.
Those who went to the mat to come up with the current plan cried foul and began to mount a letter writing campaign.
“The bid by Sarnoff to move the Fisher Place light is really an attempt to rewrite the Environmental Impact Statement,” says Candace Preston, of Financial Markets Analysis on Alexander Road, one of the letter’s signers. “The roundtable agreed to a depressed Route 1 under Washington Road and a service road parallel to Route 1, but not to a road behind the houses on Fisher Place,” says Preston.
Shing-Fu Hsueh, mayor of West Windsor, insists that closing Fisher Place is not a new idea, that it was approved by the West Windsor Planning Board in 2002. Preston points out that the 2002 approval would have been superseded by the conclusions of the roundtable, in which Hsueh participated, and by the EIS.
“Right now the EIS is what we have, and it resulted from thousands of hours contributed by people from Princeton, West Windsor, Rutgers, and DOT. It would be shame for all that time over six years to be lost,” says Preston. “We want the whole plan implemented.”
Walter Schmidlin, speaking for Sarnoff, says that the DOT was well aware of Sarnoff’s development intentions, and that moving the access road north (and closing Fisher Place) was always included in the Penns Neck plans.
DOT’s three-part plan is called the Route 1/Route 571/Penns Neck project, and it would eliminate all the traffic lights north of the Carnegie Center. One part is to rebuild the Millstone River bridge, necessary for building a Harrison Street overpass. The overpass would connect, in the short term, to single lane frontage roads parallel to Route 1. In the long term, if Sarnoff or a developer came up with the money, the overpass could connect to a road running through the Sarnoff Corporation property. DOT spokesperson Erin Phalon says that, contingent on federal funding, construction could start on the replacement of the Millstone River bridge as early as 2009.
For the second part, the DOT would depress Route 1 underneath Washington Road. Phalon says that, if funds are available, work on this could start as early as 2010, but Hsueh is among those who think this is unlikely.
The third part of the plan is to connect Alexander and Washington roads by extending Vaughn Drive from where it ends at the Princeton Junction train station to Washington Road (Route 571). “I am very optimistic about federal and state support for the Vaughn Drive extension because of the possibility of developing the transit village,” says Hsueh. The Vaughn Drive extension is on the books to start as early as 2011.
The cost for all these changes, says Phalon, would be $130 million, including nearly $14 million for the new bridge, $30 million to extend Vaughn Drive, and $55 million to realign Harrison Street (demolishing the decaying Eden Institute building) and build the Harrison Street overpass.
The environmental impact statement has been approved for all three parts of the project. Last spring the DOT budgeted $1 million for 2006 and $5 million for $2007 for preliminary designs. Phalon asserts that the department is scheduled to produce the preliminary design in two years, late in 2008.
The proposed move of the University Medical Center of Princeton to Route 1 and Plainsboro Road could hotwire all these proposals, suggests the mayor. When and if the hospital gets official permission to move, the Federal Highway Administration might change its priorities.
He points out that the Penn’s Neck EIS did not take into consideration the hospital coming to the FMC property on the east side of U.S. 1. “Now Princeton will have to look at this from a different perspective,” he says. “Before the hospital was the reason that West Windsor needed the Millstone Bypass, and now the hospital will be on this side. I am pretty sure it will be easier to work with the two Princetons now.”
Route 92, another project embroiled in long-term controversy, apparently took a step backward on October 5 when the Army Corps of Engineers issued a wishy washy Environmental Impact Statement. The Corps refused to make a recommendation, one way or the other, about whether Route 92 should get built. The Corps’ uncharacteristic lack of support may mean that Route 92’s future depends on its sponsor, the New Jersey Turnpike, and the Turnpike has put it low on the priority list.
As originally planned, Route 92 would be a 6.7-mile, limited-access four-lane road linking Route 1 near Ridge Road with the NJ Turnpike at Exit 8A of the New Jersey Turnpike. It would be a direct route from Monroe to the proposed site of the new Princeton hospital.
Last November the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (which controls this project) shifted $175 million originally intended for Route 92 to pay for the widening of a section of the Turnpike. That left just $6.5 million in the Route 92 account. The cost has risen over the years, and current estimates vary from $400 million to $700 million.
Hsueh and his opposite number in Plainsboro, Mayor Peter Cantu, are lining up against politicians in North and South Brunswick and some environmentalists to keep Route 92 alive. “Route 92 is something that should have been done 20 years ago,” says Hsueh. “Without 92, economic growth in that area is not going to be easy.”
So far, the only section of Route 92 to be constructed is the Hightstown Bypass. Seen as a necessary element to preserve quality of life in Hightstown, the bypass was ultimately “bifurcated” from Route 92 and completed in 1999.
The Army Corps of Engineers postponed its “go” or “no go” decision until the end of the public comment period, Tuesday, November 14, at 5 p.m.” The EIS is available to read at the Plainsboro and South Brunswick public libraries and also at the Monroe municipal building. Written comments on application number 1999-00240-J1 will be accepted at the Corps’ district office (fax, 212-264-4260 or E-mail: Nan.Route92EIS@usace.army.mil).
Kris Kolluri, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation, will surely face some of the concerns when he speaks on Friday, October 20, at 7:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn in East Windsor. New Jersey’s DOT.
The Public Policy Forum Networking Breakfast is sponsored by the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the East Windsor Township Economic Development Committee. Cost: $20. Call 609-924-1776.
PPPL Bidding War?
After 55 years of supervising magnetic fusion energy research at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton University will have to compete for its contract with the federal government next year. The university says it will bid aggressively.
“We are committed to making the strongest possible case for continuing to manage PPPL, as we have done successfully for many years,” said Shirley M. Tilghman, university president, in a prepared statement. “When the competition is initiated, we will submit to the Department of Energy a detailed proposal demonstrating how the laboratory will enjoy continued success under the University’s leadership. We are proud of the cutting-edge science and engineering the laboratory has accomplished, and we have great confidence that it will continue to make breakthrough discoveries in the years ahead.”
PPPL is one of 10 national science laboratories funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the DOE has begun competitive bidding contracts for eight of them. Princeton is working under an extension of its current contract and the new contract will be awarded next spring.
It was a Princeton professor, Lyman Spitzer, who started studying fusion in 1951. The facility has 400 employees in 500,000 square feet on the Forrestal Campus. It does advanced research on fusion energy, an environmentally benign and abundant energy source; participates in an international fusion energy initiative set for construction in France; operates a major research facility (the National Spherical Torus Experiment); and is finishing construction of the National Compact Stellarator Experiment.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, James Forrestal Campus, Box 451, Princeton 08543-0451; 609-243-2000. Robert J. Goldston, director. www.pppl.gov
End of an Era
Joseph P. Teti is closing one part of his family owned-business, but 16 of the chain’s digital printing and copy branches will remain open, including one at the headquarters, Darrah Lane in Lawrence.
But a “going out of business” sale is underway at the retail arts supply business through Saturday, December 2. Art supplies represent only a small part of the business, now that consumers can accomplish on computers what they used to buy at the supply stores.
The business had been founded in 1939 by his father, Joseph L. Teti, who bought a blueprint shop in Trenton. Joseph P. Teti majored in marketing at Rider (Class of 1965) and moved the firm into xerographics when that technology was still new. The firm made its first purchase of a Xerox machine in 1968 and moved to Route 1 in Lawrence in 1969. The site has six full-time employees plus part-time workers. Teti has sold that 10,000 square foot building and will relocate the printing business nearby.
“It is a bittersweet moment for us here at Triangle,” says Teti. “There comes a time in the business cycle, however, when decisions such as this have to be made. This is one of those times.”
Triangle: Your Creative Center, Alternate Route 1 and East Darrah Lane, Lawrenceville 08548-8079; 609-883-3600; fax, 609-883-0011. www.triangleart.com
Coface North America, 50 Millstone Road, Windsor Corporate Park, Building 100, Suite 360, East Windsor 08520; 609-469-0400; fax, 609-490-1581. Mike Ferrante, president. www.coface-usa.com
Coface Collections North America bought the assets of Newton & Associates Holding on September 29. A subsidiary of two French firms, it provides management and protection services for trade receivables. Headquartered in Metairie, Louisiana, Newton provides commercial debt collection, receivables management outsourcing, international collections, debt purchase, and educational services. It will operate as a division of Coface.
ICONS Inc./Bankinfosecurity.com, 4 Independence Way, Princeton 08540; 609-924-5544; fax, 732-821-9160. Sanjay Kalra, president. www.iconsinc.com
ICONS Inc., which provides consulting services in E-commerce, communications, and messaging security, expanded at the end of August from 212 North Center Drive in North Brunswick to Princeton. The firm now employs 20 people.
Keller Williams Realty, 2271 Route 33, Suite 106, Hamilton 08691; 609-259-8444; fax, 609-259-3399. Judy Moriarty, managing broker. Home page: www.kw.com
Max Lancaster, owner and president of Keller Williams at Canal Pointe, has opened a Hamilton-Burlington office with Judy Moriarty as team leader and managing broker.
Moriarty has a BS in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona and attended New York University’s MBA program, where she majored in finance. Moriarty moved from Weidel Real Estate.
Keller Williams is the fourth largest real estate organization in the U.S.. Together the Canal Pointe and Hamilton-Burlington offices employ 162 agents.
Montgomery Mortgage Solutions Inc., 2230 Route 206, First Floor, Belle Mead 08502; 908-359-2410; fax, 908-359-3929. Zibha Singh, president. www.montgomerymortgage.com
Montgomery Mortgage expanded from the Village Shopper Center, 1330 Route 206 in Montgomery, to Belle Mead. It brokers residential mortgages in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, and it is a licensed banker in New Jersey. It also has an office in Newtown, Pennsylvania.
Epam Systems, 989 Lenox Drive, Suite 305, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-844-0400; fax, 609-844-0415. Arkadiy Dobkin, CEO. Home page: www.epam.com
EPAM will merge with Vested Development Inc., a 200-person software outsourcing vendor based in Russia. EPAM will retain its name and Arkadiy Dobkin, EPAM chairman, CEO and co-founder, will continue leading EPAM’s operations in its North American headquarters on Lenox Drive.
The combined firms will employ more than 2,200 people in eight countries.
Connotate Technologies, 100 Albany Street, New Brunswick 08901; 732-296-8844; fax, 732-296-0330. Bruce Molloy, CEO. Home page: www.connotate.com
Connotate Technologies, with a current staff of 30, will expand its offices later this year to accommodate 22 additional employees. It is growing in both sales and market penetration due to what a spokesperson terms a “receptive market.”
The company creates actionable intelligence and collects unique data from the web. Its automation tools and machine-learning information agents can be trained to do anything a human can to monitor, extract, and integrate web content.
One of the first spinoffs to come out of Rutgers’ computer science department, Connotate was founded by Rutgers professors Tomasz Imielinski, author of 100 papers and two books on database mining, Donald Smith, director of the university’s laboratory for computer science (LCSR), and Vince Sgro, senior application programmer at LCSR (U.S. 1, March 21, 2001).
K.P. Burke Builder LLC, 600 Alexander Road, Princeton 08540; 609-921-6511; fax, 561-799-9215. Kevin Burke, owner. kpburkebuilder.com
K. P. Burke Builder LLC, developer and builder of single-family luxury homes, has moved from a small office in Kingston to 600 Alexander Road.
A memorial service for Natalie White Vaughan, 69, who died on July 3, will be on Saturday, October 14, at 10 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church on Mercer Street. She was a supervisor and social worker for the Division of Youth and Family Services.
Harry Kurt Pedersen Sr., 78, died on October 4. He founded Hardy Nurseries, which he operated with his son.
Dr. James Gordon Myers, 87, on October 7. Emeritus professor of music at the College of New Jersey, he wrote “God’s Trombones,” a choral setting to the James Weldon Johnson poem.
John Young, 67, on October 7. He worked in the Princeton Township public works department.
Robert J. Anderson, 81, on October 8. He had been a sergeant with Princeton Borough police.
Harry Blaze, 70, on October 9. At the Times of Trenton, he was the night metro editor, columnist, and auto racing writer.