Responding to a growing campaign from Princeton Borough and Township residents, and after examining the findings of a joint-municipal task force looking to curb heavy truck traffic on main thoroughfares, members of Township Committee Monday night cast a unanimous vote against pending state regulations that could increase oversized vehicles along routes 27 and 206.
The move comes just over a month after the state placed a rule proposal in the New Jersey Register that would allow double-trailer truck combinations and 102-inch-wide standard trucks to travel on state roads that fall under New Jersey Access Network classification, which includes 206 and 27.
Further, what has become all the more puzzling to municipal officials and residents involved with the advocacy group, Citizens for a Safer Route 206, is that the state's proposal follows a recent state-funded study looking to calm traffic along Route 206 in the Borough and Township between Cherry Valley Road and Nassau Street.
In response to the actions put forward by the state's Department of Transportation, a task force composed of elected officials and residents from both the Borough and Township worked with the Township to urge passage of Monday's resolution, as well as to encourage the mayors of both Princetons to co-sign a letter to DOT Commissioner Kris Kolluri asking his office to reevaluate the rule proposals.
There is currently a 60-day window for public feedback. After that period expires on February 16, a decision is expected to be handed down from the DOT.
Route 206 is a common throughway for trucks headed from Route 287 to Interstate 95, with Route 27 serving as an alternative to the New Jersey Turnpike or Route 1; the Township's resolution cites Route 1 and the Turnpike as proper routes for oversized truck traffic.
Further, the resolution points to local automobile, bicycle, pedestrian traffic, school buses, and parked cars, as reasons to keep large trucks off of the roads. Issues related to road geometry were also raised, particularly in cases where trucks are forced to make tight turns.
The entire anti-truck movement is part of a well-choreographed effort by the 206 advocacy group and the two Princeton governing bodies. In addition to the mayors' letter, residents involved with the effort have devised talking points and letter-writing strategies to encourage the state to reverse its stance.
As a governing body, Township Committee is looking to distribute the resolution to elected officials of nearby municipalities, as well as those on a county and state level, said Chad Goerner, a member of Township Committee who has also worked with residents of the 206 advocacy group.
The mayors' letter to the DOT's Mr. Kolluri highlights the apparent conflict with the aforementioned state-funded Route 206 vision plan, with its proposed traffic roundabouts to calm traffic. "The plan, which is already moving to address safety problems at particularly dangerous intersections, will be effectively pushed aside if Route 206 is added to the New Jersey Access Network," the letter read, adding that historic properties, including Drumthwacket, the Stony Brook Bridge, Morven, and Nassau Hall, all lie along the affected roadways.
The resolutions and letter to Mr. Kolluri were expected to be posted on the Township's municipal Web site by today. Borough Council was expected to entertain a mirror resolution opposing the state's proposals at its regular Tuesday night session after Town Topics went to press. However, that resolution is expected to pass.
In related news, Township Committee unanimously passed a resolution opposing DOT plans for a four-lane divided highway known as the Hillsborough Bypass or the 206 Bypass designed to stretch from Old Somerville Road in Hillsborough to Belle Mead-Griggstown Road in Montgomery. Township officials worry that the $190 million project would create a new development corridor, subsequently generating increased traffic south of the bypass, into Montgomery, the Princetons, and Lawrence.
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