The DOT has declared the experiment at Route 1 and 571 a success less than four days into the 12-week experiment. Those of you who had any high school science class might remember that you were told to collect ALL of the data before writing the conclusion. Seems DOT may have limited the scope of data they were willing to review before reaching the conclusion, or could it be they knew the conclusion they wanted?

Had they set up an experiment that looked not only at a single factor, the flow of traffic on Route 1, they might have noticed the secondary effects. Alexander Road is now effectively the only way to get into Princeton while traveling north on Route 1. The traffic into Princeton west from Hightstown backs up to the railroad bridge. Tractor trailers coming south on Route 1 and headed to Hightstown now have to use the Alexander Road exit off Route 1 and cross three lanes of Alexander Road traffic in less than 50 yards to return to Route 1. Numerous cars, trucks, and buses are making K turns along Route 571 to turn around and head for Princeton and Hightstown. The Scudders Mill Road bridge, already a nightmare at rush hour, has been asked to carry an addition load of those who missed Alexander Road while headed northbound on Route 1. One concession in the experiment, reopening of the Harrison Road entrance to SRI, had to be made just to allow the employees to even get to work because of the log jam on 571.

I trust this is a shortened version of the problems that will be present when school reopens. I doubt that will change the conclusion of this experiment.

Had DOT looked a little deeper into the problem of traffic flow on Route 1 they might have found that the light at Carnegie Boulevard was to have been removed when the Meadow Road overpass was finished in 2001. To stop thousands of cars all day long for the convenience of a few wanting to cross Route 1 makes little sense when compared to the short duration problem the Route 571 crossing presents during rush hour. Carnegie Boulevard should be a right turn only entrance to Route 1 from both sides.

SRI had agreed to work with the DOT so that a lane could be provided along Route 1 all across the front of SRI, similar to the entrance to Lowes and Carnegie Center, providing stacking for 50-plus cars waiting to cross Route 1 at Harrison into Princeton. There is little reason to have wasted money on the improvement at Harrison with this experiment on the drawing table.

My only hope is that this experiment has a greater “end game” in mind. The general inconvenience it has presented may be the justification to get them to agree to the long talked about plans that would include the bypass to Harrison and an overpass at the circle. One can only hope that government could be that farsighted. If not this shows the creativity of a preschool sandbox experiment.

Howard Eldridge

Eldridge, a resident of Mather Avenue near Route 571, says his street is “landlocked” due to rush-hour traffic on Washington Road.

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