#b#A Better Solution For Route 1#/b#
It has been eight years since community representatives, municipalities, traffic engineers, environmentalists, and the public developed a plan for the Route 1/Washington Road intersection. The principal components of the plan (called alternative D.2.A) put Route 1 in a cut under Washington Road and added frontage roads on both sides of Route 1, a west-side connector road to Harrison Street, and a Vaughn Drive connector road. Taking all of these elements together, the NJ DOT envisioned area-wide improvements.
At the time the New Jersey Department of Transportation stated, “Alternative D.2.A was selected as the preferred alternative because it provides a reasonable level of transportation benefit, while avoiding and minimizing environmental impacts. It represents a project that will achieve significant benefits without entailing years of delay due to extensive environmental permitting requirements. In short, it is a project that can be accomplished expeditiously.”
The DOT noted that it would provide congestion relief by improving traffic flow on Route 1, improving traffic flow on east-west routes crossing Route 1, and reducing traffic on residential streets; minimize environmental impacts to natural areas and species; reduce pollution; avoid residential displacements; minimize impact to historic properties listed with the National Register; and improve bicycle and pedestrian access and safety.
Having studied 20 alternatives with many configurations, the NJ DOT concluded that the complete plan was needed, not a selection of the elements, instituted haphazardly.
Now the NJ DOT has gone against its own plan and, without community input, without computer modeling, has chosen instead to make employees, commuters, and especially residents of the Penns Neck neighborhood guinea pigs for an experiment that has failed in all parameters except perhaps in improving traffic flow on Route 1 for a relatively short distance.
It is time to stop the Route 1/Washington Road experiment and to restore safety to the Penns Neck residents until funding can be obtained to do the job completely and effectively.
Here we go again: We are hearing multiple complaints about the negative impacts and the ineffectiveness of the NJ DOT experiment of closing left turns from Route 1 at its intersections with Washington Road and Harrison Street, and on to Route 1 from Washington Road.
A decade ago it was recognized that the main problem for traffic in the Penns Neck area was the east-west flow to and from central New Jersey’s largest employer, Princeton University. A solution that solved the east-west traffic flow and the Route 1 north-south flow was agreed to by almost everyone in the affected areas. The main feature of the solution was to put Route 1 in a cut under Washington Road.
This solution came about as a result of scores of meetings and negotiations among residents, town officials, environmental organizations, and governmental agencies. Among all of the possible changes to Route 1 intersections that were considered, one solution, which became known as the “Preferred Alignment,” respects the environment, gives relief to West Windsor and Princeton residents, businesses, and visitors, and improves north-south flow of traffic on Route 1.
Most people who have studied the traffic on Route 1 think the current experiment just postpones the inevitable long-term solution. Had plans for the Preferred Alignment moved forward when it was approved it would have been shovel-ready for the stimulus money, and we could be driving on it now. This latest experiment by NJ DOT demonstrates the need for the Preferred Alignment.
Now the question is: will there be a tragic accident in Penns Neck before the DOT cancels the current absurd experiment?
Ridgeview Road, Princeton
#b#Why Move Dinky?#/b#
On September 24 the Site Plan Review Advisory Board of the Princeton Regional Planning Board recommended approval of Princeton University’s new arts and transit neighborhood, a project that will move the terminus of the Dinky train connecting downtown to the main line more than 400 feet further from the center of town. The letter below was received the next day:
After sitting through the Site Plan Review Advisory Board meeting, I have the same question that I had six years ago: why is the Dinky station being moved?
1. All of the Arts buildings can be built and be even more beautiful, if the Dinky is not moved.
2. All of the environmental attributes of the plan can be realized and many of its detriments diminished, if the Dinky is not moved.
3. The grandeur of the current Dinky station as a gateway to Princeton, McCarter, the Seminary, and the University can be retained, if the Dinky is not moved.
4. The Lot 7 garage can be accessed either below grade at its south end (only a 9-foot clearance is necessary because the garage’s clearance is less than 9 feet), or at grade at its north end (all cars accessing the garage from Alexander currently cross the Dinky at-grade), if the Dinky is not moved.
5. The service tunnel can readily pass under the Dinky tracks, if the Dinky is not moved.
6. The public’s transportation deed easement on all of the 3.5 acres can be set aside on the portion of the land occupied by the Arts buildings, if the Dinky is not moved.
7. The freight building can be expanded (while preserving its historic features) to create a convenience store for the Forbes and Arts students, if the Dinky is not moved.
8. The Wawa could be relocated to the gas station on the corner of Alexander and Faculty to provide convenience items in close proximity to nearby housing as well as fueling services to those driving on Alexander, if the Dinky is not moved.
9. A lot of money would be saved, if the Dinky is not moved, and
10. Much good will will be restored, if the Dinky is not moved.
Alain L. Kornhauser
Kornhauser, a professor of operations research and financial engineering at Princeton University, is the founder of ALK Technologies Inc., a developer of transportation management software based at 457 North Harrison Street.