Corrections or additions?
This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the September 25, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Plotting the Millstone Bypass
A plan to alleviate traffic jams on Route 1 — and
on roads that feed into Route 1 — in the Penns Neck area of West
Windsor is closer to reality. The Voorhees Transportation Policy Institute
of Rutgers University, operating at the request of the New Jersey
Department of Transportation, has published a newsletter providing
detailed information on alternatives arrived at during the course
of nearly 18 months of meetings. A final recommendation is to be made
in April, 2003.
In these meetings, 32 members of a Partners Roundtable, representing
sometimes conflicting community, historic preservation, environmental,
corporate, retail, and government constituencies, have come up with
18 road-based alternatives for the five-mile radius around the Route
1 and Washington Road intersection in the Penns Neck section of West
Windsor. These 18 alternatives have been bundled into seven groups
based on similar characteristics.
Diagrams of these alternatives are the centerpiece of a day-long in-progress
review on Monday, September 30 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the New
Jersey Hospital Association Conference Center on Alexander Road. Presentations,
providing more detail, take place at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. A videotape
of the 11 a.m. presentation is available for viewing throughout the
The roundtable approach was initiated by then governor Christie Whitman,
after the DOT’s initial preferred alignment for the bypass was decried
by opponents as an environmentally-harmful fait-accompli presented
with little community input. Along with the Partners Roundtable comes
a required full-scale environmental impact study.
"Our assignment is proving to be challenging as anticipated,"
says Martin E. Robins, director of the Voorhees Institute. "But
it is also demonstrating the enormous potential of planning in a public
context that embraces diversity and encourages discussion."
In addition to the seven build alternatives, the Penns Neck Area Environmental
Impact Statement (Penns Neck EIS) includes a "no-build" alternative,
as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. This baseline
scenario will serve as the benchmark against which all of the build
alternatives will be compared. No-build considers only routine maintenance
and currently planned improvements to roadways in the primary (five-mile
radius) and secondary (20-mile radius) study areas that are likely
to be built by 2028 as based on local and regional capital improvement
Demographic and development data upon which the Penns
Neck EIS is relying forecast a 13 percent population growth in the
primary area along with a 68 percent employment growth. Employment
in Plainsboro Township is expected to increase 50 percent — from
27,000 in 2001 to 40,500 in 2028 — and employment in West Windsor
Township is expected to grow from 19,000 to 44,000 in the same period,
resulting in "a substantial increase in travel demand."
The seven alternatives on the table to deal with these demands are
A alternatives have variations. All A alternatives, however, place
Route 1 in a cut, and most provide frontage roads. All provide a new
grade-separated interchange in the vicinity of Harrison Street, and
an east-side connector road at the northern edge of the Sarnoff property
along the Millstone River, and a Harrison Street connector road west
of Route 1 between the D & R Canal and Route 1.
All A alternatives provide direct access to and from Route 1 through
either loop or diamond interchanges in the vicinity of Harrison Street.
One A alternative removes all access between Washington Road and Route
1 and provides no frontage roads.
Other A alternatives provide direct access to Route 1 southbound;
access from Route 1 northbound and southbound and to Route 1 northbound
is provided via frontage road connections to the Harrison Street interchange.
And one A alternative provides direct access to Route 1 northbound
and to Route 1 southbound via frontage road connections at the Harrison
The A alternatives, like many other plans, bring Vaughn Drive into
the equation, extending that road north from its current terminus
in the Princeton Junction train station parking lot to Washington
Road in the vicinity of the Amtrak bridge in Princeton Junction.
similar to the former preferred alignment for the Millstone Bypass.
Route 1 remains at grade and the traffic signals at Washington Road,
Fisher Place, and Harrison Street are removed and replaced with a
grade-separated loop interchange in the vicinity of Harrison Street.
East-west access across Route 1 at Washington Road is eliminated.
frontage roads between Harrison Street and Washington Road. Instead
B and B 1. connect Harrison Street at Washington Road with a west-side
connector road across Princeton University property, in the vicinity
of the D & R Canal. In B 2., a similar connector road between Harrison
Street and Washington Road is aligned further to the east and extends
south to Alexander Road. All B alternatives include an east-side connector
road, but do not include an extension of Vaughn Road.
B, C alternatives provide an at-grade Route 1 and remove the traffic
signals at Washington Road, Fisher Place, and Harrison Street. The
C alternatives include a diamond interchange in the vicinity of Harrison
Street and a 2-way frontage road running parallel to Route 1 on the
west side, between Washington Road and Harrison Street.
One C alternative provides a west-east connector road between Alexander
and Washington Roads, while another does not. The C alternative does
not include the east-west connector road, through Sarnoff property,
that is a main feature of the original Millstone Bypass configuration,
and which is a prominent feature in B alternatives.
C alternatives do make use of a Vaughn Drive extension.
1 at Washington Road, provide frontage roads between Washington Road
and a new Harrison Street interchange, and make use of an east-side
connector road through Sarnoff property. The configuration envisioned
in D plans puts the east-side connector farther to the south, and
farther away from the Millstone River than does the original Millstone
River Bypass. D also puts a connector road from Route 1 to Harrison
One D plan buries Route 1 only at Washington Road, while another extends
the length of the cut from Varsity Drive to Fisher Place and provides
connections over Route 1 at all three roads.
A Vaughn Drive extension is included in D alternatives.
of Route 1, cut east-to-west across Sarnoff property, include a Harrison
Street connector, and make use of a Vaughn Drive extension. A distinctive
feature of E alternatives is that they put the east-west connector
road on the southern edge of Sarnoff property.
F alternatives include a Route 1 cut, a grade-separated loop interchange
in the vicinity of Harrison Street, an east-side connector road, and
a Harrison Street connector road. The big difference is that F alternatives
prohibit through access from the east-side connector road to the west-side
Harrison Street connector road. The elimination of through access
at Harrison Street was designed to maintain an equal distribution
of east-west traffic into and out of the Princeton.
In F alternatives, Route 1 traffic accessing Princeton would use the
Harrison Street interchange, while east-west traffic would use Washington
working with lane changes and traffic signals to tame Route 1 traffic.
Alternative G calls for turning lane modifications on all Route and
Harrison Street and Route 1 and Washington Road approaches, including
center turn lanes on Route 1 at Washington Road and Harrison Street.
The traffic signal at Fisher Place is removed and Fisher Place becomes
a right-in/right-out intersection.
Alternative G-1 is similar to G, but replaces center left-turn lanes
with jug handles at Washington Road and Harrison Street. The signal
at Fisher Place is removed and Fisher Place becomes a right-in, right-out
Alternative G-2 eliminates traffic signals on Route 1 at Harrison
Street, Washington Road, and Fisher Place. Each crossing becomes a
right-in, right-out intersection. This option eliminates east-west
access across Route 1.
that the Penns Neck area study is entering the critical phase of developing
the draft EIS. The project team is now conducting traffic, environmental,
and other technical studies to gauge the impacts of each of the above
alternatives. Each category of analysis will identify and quantify
the impacts for each alternative and compare it to the no-build alternative.
Goals and objectives include protecting and enhancing the integrity
of residential neighborhoods; improving access, mobility, and safety
for all modes of transportation, and reducing congestion; protecting
and enhancing the environment, including natural resources and open
space; protecting and enhancing historic and archaeological resources;
maintaining the viability of institutional and business communities;
and recognizing the interrelationships between land use and transportation.
The Penns Neck Area EIS team is operating under a timetable that states
another in-progress review will be made public in November, and a
draft EIS in December. A public hearing is scheduled for January.
Public input is to take place through February, and a final decision
is due in April.
Corrections or additions?
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