Corrections or additions?
This letter was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on April 7, 1999
Letter to the Editor:
On March 16, in a closed meeting, local governing officials
"reached consensus," rejecting the most recent plan for the
Millstone Bypass and supporting the original NJDOT plan for the Bypass
(U.S. 1, March 24). In this plan, you will recall, the road swings
around through Princeton University lands, running adjacent and parallel
to the canal, to connect with Washington Road. Except for a "proposed"
extension of the road between Washington and Alexander, and Washington
Road remaining open at U.S. 1 for right turns in and out, the "consensus"
plan is the same as the original NJDOT plan revealed to the public
nearly three years ago.
This is most surprising, since as recently as last November, when
NJDOT proposed removing the connection to Washington Road, project
manager Lynn Middleton said the changes were made to address the concerns
about the elms and the D&R canal. The plan proposed at that time was,
of course, unacceptable because it placed an undue burden on Harrison
Street, so with nothing more creative to offer, NJDOT has returned
to the original plan. Major concerns still exist:
It will connect with a widened Route 571, which in turn connects with
the Hightstown Bypass, now under construction, which connects with
the turnpike. The Millstone Bypass, far from being a "local road"
is in fact a link directly with Exit 8 of the NJ Turnpike.
included the requirement that the road remain two lanes. So did the
original bypass design. The question remains as to how wide these
lanes, and the all-important shoulders, will be. The original design
shows the Millstone Bypass overpass as a mirror image of the Alexander
Road overpass, which is very large.
Washington Road and the Elm Allee are now listed on the State and
National Register of Historic Places. The Historic Sites Council must
approve any plan that adversely affects this site. There are NJ State
regulations concerning impacts to the D&R Canal, also an historic
site. Yet, the new proposed connector with Alexander poses twice the
threat to the trees and the Canal, as the road will cross Washington
Road and run for the full length of the towpath between Washington
and Alexander. Federal law requires that an Environmental Impact Statement
be prepared on large road projects that impact environmental areas
such as wetlands or historic properties.
While NJDOT insists this is a minor improvement to the Washington
Road intersection with Route 1, it is clear that this is a major regional
project requiring an Environmental Impact Statement.
is illegal. Federal transportation law provides reasonable procedures
for the planning of major road projects, which include public input
(the locals just might have some knowledge and good ideas!) and analysis
of environmental impacts. NJDOT has consistently skirted these regulations.
Washington Road was built in 1802 as a connecting link between Penns
Neck and Princeton. Without keeping Washington Road open to traffic
over a depressed Route 1, (a plan supported by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora
and Princeton Mayor Marvin Reed), this link between the two communities
will be severed, depriving West Windsor and Princeton of a direct
route to the train station, hospital, and cultural assets.
officials have a duty to explain to Princeton residents why this consensus
has been reached without the requisite environmental analysis and
proper procedures. This major road project will be "set in concrete,"
literally. Rather than being so eager to come to closure, they should
refuse to accept any plan until the National Environmental Protection
Act requirements are carried out.
Jean A. Mahoney
Corrections or additions?
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