Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 23
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
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Alexander Road Reconstruction Means Loss of Business for Obal, Traffic Delays

Anne Levin

Early June is busy season at Obal Garden Market on Alexander Road. But by 1:30 p.m. last Thursday, not one customer had shown up at the popular nursery, which is nestled in a bend in the road. The heavily traveled artery between Route 1 and Princeton Borough is closed for construction, with a 24-hour detour in place, on weekdays, on both lanes between Canal Pointe Boulevard and Canal Road.

“It’s pretty bad today,” said Kathryn Obal, an owner of the garden center. “They’re not telling us anything. It all goes day to day. We have dealt with this before when they were replacing the bridge, but this is really bad, especially considering the time of year.”

Business at Obal had improved somewhat during the weekend, when the road was open. But by Monday, the crews were back right in front of the garden center, so business was, once again, nearly non-existent.

Alexander Road will be closed for up to three more weeks so that construction crews can re-align the road, because of its sharp bend, to provide better drainage and sanitary sewer repairs. “Hopefully, the work will proceed quickly and we won’t have to stay closed the full four weeks,” said Robert V. Kiser, Princeton Township Engineer and Director of Public Works. “Here in Princeton, we’ve heard of many people having up to half-hour or 40-minute delays getting in. The good news is that it’s summer and school is out, so there is less traffic. But it is definitely causing problems for people.”

The work is being carried out by West Windsor Township. Francis Guzik, West Windsor Township Engineer, said that the project also includes some widening of the roadway. Bicycle lanes will be added to each shoulder, and a sidewalk will be installed on the resident side of the road.

While the road closure is targeted for completion by the end of June, the actual finish date for the project is mid-July. Making the site safer is an additional priority. “With the geometry that’s out there, not only the curvature of the road but the site distance and the slope of the road, safety is a part of it,” said Mr. Guzik. “It was not a nice average decline from the top of the hill to the bottom of the hill. Part of the regrading is to average out the slopes and reduce the steepness in some sections.”

The project began in May with alternating lanes being closed from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.. Once the road re-opens, that plan will be resumed until the work is finished.

In the meantime, traffic is being detoured via Route 1 to Washington Road to Faculty Road. Residences and businesses like Obal Garden Market are supposed to be accessible, sometimes only from the Princeton side, during the project. Obal Garden Market has advertised that it is accessible during the project, but the situation has been frustrating.

“People just don’t want to battle that Route 1 traffic,” said Ms. Obal. “We had a meeting with the mayor about two years ago and he said they wouldn’t do anything in our busy season, that they would wait till July. But here it is, exactly our busy season. And our business is suffering.”

For updates on the status of the project, visit www.westwindsornj.org.

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