#b#To the Editor: Will Jughandles Need U-Turn?#/b#

It is clear that NJDOT intends to close the Harrison and Washington Road jughandles permanently. Its advisory on the NJDOT website states: “If the trial is deemed a success, the turns will NOT be restored” (emphasis added).

What are the measurements of success? Are they that backups at the jughandles will no longer occur? It seems self-evident that this will be true since they will be closed.

What measurements are being taken of traffic congestion coming into Princeton via alternative routes? Where have counters been installed? Do we have adequate historical data in place for comparison?

How will the economic impacts be measured from loss of sales by our merchants? Have our merchants been asked to keep records that can be given to NJDOT? What about the extra time and gasoline required for using alternative routes? How is that being measured?

Has NJDOT run this through a computer model? Why haven’t they presented the results to the public? Where do our legislators stand on this?

No one is denying that Route 1 traffic should be better managed. We are still waiting for an overpass at Harrison Street, which we are being told must be financed by federal funds that are not yet forthcoming.

In the meantime, the addition of a turning lane into each of the jughandles would improve traffic backups at the jughandles. This could be accomplished more easily at Harrison Street than Washington Road, but this improvement at Harrison would help and could easily be implemented.

Kip Cherry

Princeton Township

#b#Stop the Closings#/b#

I read with great dismay and outrage that the New Jersey Department of Transportation continues with its plans to close the jughandles at Washington Road and Harrison Street going north — with the added burden of closing the left hand turn at Washington Road going south.

NJ DOT has inconceivably and inconsiderately decided to close a major east-west route into Princeton from West Windsor without consideration of the residents in West Windsor. This decision will turn Princeton into an island. It will increase traffic at Scudders Mill and Alexander roads to unbelievable proportions. All of this with no plans for building an overpass in the vicinity. What can they possibly be thinking? Certainly not about the combined 50,000 citizens who actually live here and use these roads daily.

As stated on the DOT website: “After the conclusion of the trial, NJDOT will meet with stakeholders to present its findings as to whether the restrictions have proven to be effective in reducing Route 1 congestion and to discuss the extent of any secondary impacts on local streets and roads.

“If the trial is deemed a success, the turns will not be restored and the department will replace the temporary barriers with permanent and more esthetically pleasing barriers as expeditiously as possible.”

I’m planning on starting a petition to “Stop the Closings and Build an Overpass” on Change.org. Please contact me if you can help with the wording of the petition, social media, and pro bono legal action.

Deirdra A. Silver

West Windsor

deirdrasilver@me.com

#b#Hire a Veteran; Helmets to Hardhats#/b#

It takes a special kind of courage to join our nation’s military, especially in these volatile times abroad. As we welcome our veterans home, the least we can do for them is to provide employment opportunity . We have a moral obligation to hire our Jersey heroes, but it also is a practical decision.

That is why the Department of Labor and Workforce Development has strongly supported the Helmets to Hardhats program, which enables men and women in the National Guard, people in the reserve and retired or transitioning military members to connect to quality career and training opportunities in construction.

Earlier this month at the New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council’s (NJBCTC) annual convention I announced Labor will fund the program for another year. Our $190,000 grant marks the second consecutive year the Christie Administration has supported the effort.

The NJBCTC, which is a partnership of the 13 county building trades councils with links to more than 100 local unions and over 150,000 rank and file members, educates and trains veterans through Helmets to Hardhats for placement on their jobsites.

Just 10 months ago I joined Governor Christie and NJBCTC President Bill Mullen at a construction site in New Brunswick, where we announced a $195,000 initial investment in Helmets to Hardhats. While NJBCTC initially agreed to serve 24 veterans through the program, it doubled that by successfully placing 47 veterans into apprenticeships.

Connecting returning military personnel to jobs requires direct links to the veteran community and knowledge of their unique skills, and the NJBCTC understands that. While national surveys indicate employers have a very strong interest in bringing our veterans aboard, those same businesses also say they do not know how to reach veterans and are unsure how to adapt their skills to the civilian market.

That is where my department, along with the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMAVA) and the federal Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), is helpful. Each of our agencies has access to programs designed to help veterans find potential employment.

Last spring we brought employers — large and small — to a symposium at Prudential Financial in Newark to highlight the many resources available, including on-the-job training, tax credits and customized and literacy training grants offered by my Department. We have nearly 50 veteran representatives ready to assist former military personnel connect with jobs and any other services they need each day. It’s a service we are committed to maintaining.

Harold J. Wirths

Commissioner, Department of

Labor & Workforce Development

#b#State Pensions: Looming Disaster#/b#

It might be useful for readers to do some homework when it comes to the state’s claims regarding its unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities.

The state reports its pension system has an unfunded $41.8 billion liability. However, this unfunded liability number is vastly understated!

According to Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute, if the state calculated its pension liabilities in a manner consistent with private-sector accounting requirements-methods that economists almost universally agree to be more appropriate-New Jersey’s unfunded benefit obligation rises to $173.9 billion.

New Jersey has made a $174 billion promise without any idea of how it will pay for it.

To make matters worse, the current investment environment is characterized by low returns. State actuaries estimate that if pension system assets return less than 8 percent — which is highly likely — the NJ pension system will run out of money to make benefit payments as soon as 2013.

This is a looming crisis that every reader should be concerned about — not just those receiving a monthly pension check and retiree health care benefits for life.

D.J. Kurz

Lambertville

Kurz describes himself as a self-employed consultant in the legal profession who is “concerned about the fiscal viability of the state and the deficit’s impact on my taxes and whether New Jersey will become an unaffordable place to live and retire. I have no professional connection to the issue.”

#b#Film Fans Unite#/b#

I am one of the fans of the Montgomery Theater and would not like to see its demise. How about doing what film groups in other cities have done and charging an annual membership fee for the privilege of buying individual tickets? A higher price could be charged for non-members (many of whom might then join). This might even allow for sprucing up the auditoriums and lavatories.

Phyllis Spiegel

Plainsboro

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