Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 4
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
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Mercer Street Will Close for Six Months

Dilshanie Perera

Mercer Street is scheduled to close on or around February 1 for six months. The expanse of roadway between Lovers Lane and Nassau Street will be barred to through traffic for the duration of the project, with the Borough Engineering Department expecting long delays during peak travel times.

Characterizing the potential project-related congestion of Route 206 and other routes into town as something “impossible to predict,” Borough Engineer Chris Budzinski envisioned that traffic would be the heaviest during peak hours in the two weeks after the work begins, and would gradually taper off.

“In this kind of situation, it takes about a week to a week and a half for people to realize they should be going in other directions,” Mr. Budzinski said.

Motorists are urged to plan alternate routes for entering and leaving Princeton, including Rosedale Road, Alexander Street, Washington Road, and Harrison Street.

Most side streets connecting to Mercer will also be closed to all but residential traffic. As for the homes that front along Mercer Street, Mr. Budzinski said that local access to individual driveways would be allowed, and that “emergency service access and essential services — like garbage, recycling, and mail” would still be able to move through. Nonetheless, there may be certain times during the project that people will be unable to get in and out of their driveways when resurfacing is done immediately in front of their homes.

“The contractor has 180 calendar working days to complete the project,” Mr. Budzinski noted. “We are optimistic that it’s not going to take that long.”

Police officers will be stationed for the first two weeks of construction at key intersections, including Stockton Street and Elm Road, Lovers Lane and Stockton Street, and Lovers Lane and Mercer Street. Subsequently, officers will be deployed on a week-by-week basis, Mr. Budzinski reported.

The Mercer Street project involves a complete reconstruction of the roadway from Springdale Road to Nassau Street. Mr. Budzinski explained that the concrete roadway would be removed; new sanitary sewer lines, storm sewer lines, and new curbing would be put in; and the entire expanse from Nassau Street to Lovers Lane would be repaved and resurfaced.

Those who have driven up or down Mercer Street are familiar with the bumpy ride along the uneven road surface pocked by potholes. Mr. Budzinski estimated that the last time Mercer Street was paved was sometime in the 1950s. “A concrete road surface is unheard of these days,” he said, adding that the road had not been repaved in recent memory, though patches of work had been done. “Hopefully, this resurfacing will have a useful life of 20 years or longer.”

Given the current economic climate, the timing of the project has allowed the Borough to secure a construction fee at $1.88 million, less than the projected engineer’s estimate of $2.5 million. “We’ve had several bids well below the estimate, and several over the estimate, and this is indicative of what we’ve seen over the last six to nine months,” Mr. Budzinski said. “Contractors are hungry for work.”

Green Construction from South River will be the company working on the reconstruction of Mercer Street.

The closing of Mercer Street follows the five-month closure of Rosedale Road, which opened to through traffic in November of last year. The adjustment of the traffic light at the intersection of Route 206 and Elm Road, as well as at that at 206 and Lover’s Lane, alleviated some of the backups during that time.

“We are asking for patience from everyone,” said Borough Mayor Mildred Trotman. “It’s going to be an inconvenience, but we have to get the street done,” she added, emphasizing that the Borough will “do everything we can to minimize the inconvenience.”

For more information, call the Borough’s Engineering Office at (609) 497-7634.

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